The B.C. Safety Authority has asked the Burns Lake Thrift Shop to remove a dumbwaiter recently installed at the site after a safety officer considered it unsafe.
The freight elevator would connect the Thrift Shop’s new basement to the main floor, sparing the volunteers – whose average age is 75 – from carrying boxes up and down the stairs.
The dumbwaiter was built and donated by local resident George Hamp, a retired building contractor. He said it took him about a week to build it and that it cost him about $1000.
He says that even though he’s read the B.C. Safety Authority’s report, he still doesn’t understand why the lift was deemed unsafe.
“As far as I’m concerned, there’s no safety issue there,” he said. “There’s a fire door on the top entry and a fire door on the bottom entry. You can’t ride on it, it’s too small to ride on it. The fire door has to be closed and locked before the elevator will work.”
Hamp believes this might be a case of “government over-regulation.”
“If this is a safety issue, do you think it’s safer for 75-year-old gals to be packing boxes up and down?”
In B.C., all active elevating devices – elevators, material lifts, dumbwaiters, escalators and moving walks – are considered regulated equipment under the Safety Standards Act and the Elevating Devices Safety Regulation. As a result, these items are required to have a design registration, acceptance inspection and operating permit in place, as well as a maintenance contract in place with a licensed contractor.
According to the B.C. Safety Authority, a safety officer inspected the Thrift Shop dumbwaiter and discovered it was not compliant with these regulations.
“The unit was not installed by an individual with the necessary qualifications to do the work; that is, a licensed elevating device contractor or a certified elevating device mechanic employed by a licensed elevating device contractor,” explained Roy Siojo, a spokesperson for the B.C. Safety Authority.
“The unit was installed without the required installation permit,” he continued. “This also indicates that the unit did not undergo the required acceptance inspection.”
“Elevating devices are complex pieces of equipment and they should be installed only by people with the proper qualifications,” he added. “Even if an elevating device is not intended to hold people, there is potential concern around public safety.”
The Burns Lake and District Healthcare Auxiliary, the group that runs the Burns Lake Thrift Shop, said they had “no comments at this time.”
The Thrift Shop recently underwent a major renovation, adding 1120 square feet and a basement to the back of the Fourth Avenue building to increase its capacity to store community donations, which have been progressively increasing over the past five years. Although the Thrift Shop has more shelf space now, volunteers say there’s still not enough room to display all the items that they receive. The renovation cost roughly $390,000, which is $40,000 more than what was originally expected.