Promoting building safety through elevators and escalators

Global construction and engineering industries have always put a premium on the safety of buildings. This is because safeguarding life, health, property, public and environmental welfare should be intricately infused with the form, function and aesthetics of any building.

This is achieved through the design, quality of materials, construction, use, occupancy and maintenance, including the utilities, fixtures, equipment, mechanical, electrical and other systems and installations in the building.

In promoting safety, buildings that are ready for emergencies are ideal. Technological advancements now allow such features to be in place in interior structures to help save lives in times of incidents such as fires, earthquakes, and the impact of typhoons.

“Emergencies such as fires, earthquakes, and even the effects brought by typhoons like power shortages can damage electrical and gas outlets. During these times, elevators and escalators should particularly be able to at least remain active until rescue operations are completed,” said engineer Ramoncito A. Ocampo, PME, president of International Elevator & Equipment, Inc. (IEE), a group company of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, one of the leading worldwide manufacturers of electrical and electronic products.

Mitsubishi Electric escalators all have emergency power buttons for passenger safety. Some of the escalators are installed in world-class developments in central business districts like Bonifacio Global City.
The multi-beam door sensor-signal type (MBSS) is one of the reliable safety devices in elevators that ensure that doors are clear to open and close.

“Under such conditions, it is not realistic to wait for rescuers. These structures should have safety codes to prevent trapping passengers inside the elevator car, enable easy-rescue, or allow people to get to safety on their own,” noted engineer Henry E. Bayonas, REE, IEE assistant vice president E/E Service Department.

Elevators and escalators should be equipped with functions for emergencies. Elevator cars, for example, should automatically move to the nearest floor using a rechargeable battery to facilitate the safe evacuation of passengers.

“With this scheme, all cars stop at the nearest floor and park there with the doors open to facilitate safe evacuation when crisis is detected,” explained Bayonas.

In the specific case of a fire, cars with a fire operation switch immediately return to a predetermined floor. The car then responds only to commands which facilitate fire fighting and rescue operations.

For other situations, predetermined cars use the building’s emergency power supply to move to a specified floor, then open doors for passengers to evacuate. After all cars have arrived, the cars resume normal operations.

“On the other hand, for escalators, most modern ones have emergency stop buttons at their top and bottom. Under the escalator inspection plate is a power removal button to completely switch off the escalator,” added Bayonas.

A dedicated personnel should also be able to assist during these times, particularly when it comes to mobilizing elevator and escalator as a mode to help people get off the building or transfer them to a safer floor.

IEE had this in mind when it devised a hotline in cases of health, safety, and security scenarios and allotted personnel to assist in building rescue and evacuation operations as part of its after-sales service.

“Although emergency-ready structures help, the primary line towards safety is still acting and responding properly in cases of emergencies. Hence, everyone should know what to do during and after crises such as fires, earthquakes, and other emergencies,” said Ocampo.

For superior safety features combined with innovations to ensure efficiency and comfort, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation is one of the manufacturers that put quality and safety at the heart of its products to ensure long-lasting durability and practical use. The company sets the highest standards in elevator and escalator innovation, and is widely recognized as the leader in serving vertical transportation needs of buildings of all types and sizes. Since 1969, local affiliate International Elevator & Equipment, Inc. (IEE) has been selling, installing and maintaining Mitsubishi elevators and escalators, air-conditioners and diesel generators in the country.