Going nowhere

Greenfield Acres high-rise elevators out of commission Monday afternoon

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Residents of Greenfield Acres await the repair of the elevator to return to their homes.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Residents of Greenfield Acres await the repair of the elevator to return to their homes.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Greenfield Acres in Greenfield is an apartment building that provides homes for elderly residents. The elevators weren’t functioning Monday and residents were stranded.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Greenfield Acres in Greenfield is an apartment building that provides homes for elderly residents. The elevators weren’t functioning Monday and residents were stranded.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Residents of Greenfield Acres await the repair of the elevator to return to their homes.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Greenfield Acres in Greenfield is an apartment building that provides homes for elderly residents. The elevators weren’t functioning Monday and residents were stranded.

GREENFIELD — Firefighters will be manning the Greenfield Acres Elderly Housing elevators, at the landlord’s expense, as stand-ins for a faulty fire safety system for an undetermined duration.

A state elevator inspector ordered the elderly housing apartment high-rise’s two elevators shut off Monday afternoon, leaving some residents stuck on their floors or unable to return to them.

Residents of the nine-story elderly housing apartment building at 10 Congress St. had initially heard the elevators would be out of commission for two days, but the company, town and state inspector had worked out a compromise by 5 p.m.

Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan announced the elevators would be running by Monday night, to general expressions of relief from the dozen or so residents gathered in the lobby in front of the elevators.

Greenfield inspector of buildings Mark Snow said the elevator service company was expected turn the power back on by about 6 p.m.

Strahan said the shut-down stemmed from the failure of the fire recall system, an automatic system required by the state elevator code that prevents the elevators from stopping at a floor where a fire alarm has sounded and instead returns the elevator to the ground floor.

“The Fire Department has been working with the management company to resolve some deficiencies in the fire alarm system for the fire recall,” Snow said.

Snow said those deficiencies were not resolved and the state elevator inspector ordered the shutdown.

Firefighters with override keys will now fulfill the recall function for the immediate future.

Before Strahan’s announcement, eighth-floor residents Lorraine O’Neil and Douglas O’Neil, both 83, were discussing with their son Michael “Micky” Longo what to do next.

“She called me to try to get him up eight floors, but I can’t do it,” Longo said. Douglas O’Neil uses a wheelchair, Lorraine O’Neil said she can walk down eight flights of stairs but can’t walk back up.

Douglas O’Neil had dialysis in the morning, and had been away when news of the elevator shut-off went around the building.

With another appointment in the morning, Longo pointed out it didn’t matter if they could get his stepfather up the stairs because they would have to repeat the process the next day.

A group of residents waited on chairs in the lobby, some stuck and some concerned by the potential two-day inconvenience.

Ninth-floor resident Ethel Conti, 89, said she can walk up the stairs but has to back down.

The group seemed to take the interruption in stride.

“Everyone has just been so cooperating so well,” said resident Gail Williams, 83. “It’s wonderful how everyone is.”

Don Jordan, 72, said he can’t reach his seventh floor apartment without the elevator, and challenged Conti to carry him.

Jordan estimated he had been waiting for an hour and a half or two hours, and wasn’t seriously worried as long as they could get back upstairs that evening.

All spoken to were effusive in their praise of the building manager, Trudi Ackerman.

Ackerman manages the building for the owner, Congress Companies of Boston and New York.

Strahan said the firefighters will be hired off-duty at the business’ expense, until the problem is fixed.

Ackerman said the building has 94 apartments and about 117 residents.

Firefighters reported the elevators up and running before 6:20 p.m.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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