According to UTM Director of Physical Plant, Tim Nipp, a minor maintenance repair problem is to blame for last Tuesday’s power surge that left several UTM students trapped for almost 20 minutes on an elevator in the Humanities Building.
Nipp said that Thompson Power, a power repair company out of Memphis, was repairing a reclosure switch to the UTM power facility when repair workers ran into mechanical difficulties, causing the entire city of Martin to lose power as well as UTM, which caused the Humanities handicapped elevator to stop between floors.
Nipp said normally the generators would have kicked-on within two minutes of the outage; however the generators had been shut off prior to the repair procedure as a mandatory safety precaution for the Thompson Power repair workers.
“When repair workers are fixing an existing electrical problem, we have to turn the generators off to ensure their safety,” said Nipp.
No injuries were reported because of the elevator’s malfunctioning, but UTM students were a bit shaken by the incident.
Nipp also says that UTM spends about $40,000 per year on elevator maintenance and upkeep and that elevator safety inspection companies — the current company being the Kone Company — check UTM elevators on a weekly basis for any problems such as sensor adjustments and/or malfunctions.
“UTM takes care of all elevator maintenance problems promptly,” said Nipp.
The associate director of UTM’s Physical Plant, Brad Burkett, says that the Tennessee Division of Elevators conducts an annual evaluation of UTM elevators as well as elevators all over the state.
“UTM has always scored high on elevator maintenance and safety,” said Burkett.
Nipp says to prevent another elevator entrapment occurrence like the one last week, UTM will make sure that hired elevator inspectors follow a set procedure in elevator maintenance.
“We’ll strictly enforce that contractors follow protocol,” said Nipp.
Nipp says if students should find themselves in a similar situation as last Tuesday, the following elevator safety tips should be followed: Remain calm; press the help/alarm button on the call box (located by the floor buttons) and wait for Public Safety to answer. This alarm, which is directly connected to Public Safety, will work during a power failure.