Richmond councilwoman says city’s elevator issues ‘present real public safety concern’

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Broken down elevators, people getting stuck, outdated inspections, and now 8News has uncovered no one’s really tracking any of it.

On Tuesday, 8News exposed hundreds of rescues for people trapped in an elevator in the City of Richmond. Elevator issues are frustrating for tenants and sometimes debilitating for residents.

One tenant at the Stuart Court Apartments on Monument Avenue, who preferred not to be identified, told 8News, “Our elevator has been broken since August. I have to climb these steps with my kid who is a small toddler.”

The elevator at Stuart Court Apartments was recently condemned. Prior to that, 8News exposed the broken down elevator kept firefighters on the run.

We uncovered the Richmond Fire Department has rescued people from the Stuart Court Apartments elevator nine times over the last two years. The elevator certificate shared with 8News shows it hasn’t been inspected this year. Yet, elevators in Richmond are supposed to be inspected twice a year.

“It presents a real public safety concern,” City Councilwoman Kim Gray said, expressing concern about citizen safety. “What we are finding is a lot of preventative maintenance isn’t happening, so people are getting stuck in these elevators. There are rescues that have to take place and for many of our citizens they are stuck in their apartments for days at a time.”

A recent Richmond audit found in a sampling of elevators, more than half lacked any record of inspection.

“There is inadequate records,” says Gray.

Richmond’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Sharon Ebert, believes the records are there but says they were never entered into the right database under the previous administration.

“It’s my understanding it’s not that the elevators have not been inspected,” she said during an Audit Committee meeting.

Still, that’s not the only problem. 8News has learned the city is behind on issuing certificates. In an email to 8News, Ebert tells us, “We have a backlog of certificates that need to be done because we have been short-staffed.”

Councilwoman Gray says that’s a problem.

“If there is no documentation, it didn’t happen,” she said.

Also, Ebert admits to 8News the City doesn’t check to make sure those elevator inspections are getting done.

She writes, “We don’t track whether owners are keeping their records up to date.”

She added, “The property owner or facility manager is responsible to maintain and track their inspection logbook.”

Gray found that to be another concern.

“They are continuing to rely on apartment managers to self-report,” the councilwoman said.

8News has also learned if a building owner is behind on an inspection, there’s no penalty or fine for that. Yet, if their elevator gets stuck, city resources respond.

“Because the city has fallen down on its part of the job,” Gray added.

8News has been told the City is working on getting elevator inspections into their system so they can see when an inspection is missed and begin to apply a penalty. If you are concerned about an elevator you use you can report issues and outdated inspection certificates to the City’s Code Enforcement Department at (804) 646-6398. 

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