A Prepared Plan
Building owners and managers need to be aware of their obligations to their tenants for emergencies that can happen in buildings. Emergencies like fires, power failures, bomb threats, crimes, civil disorders, wild weather are just a few that could happen. Be prepared!
Emergencies happen when least expected, so office-building and apartment managers must be ready in advance and have a plan prepared.
The following are some components of a plan of preparation for emergencies in buildings:
Public address systems that can alert the entire building’s occupants are life-savers. It is an ideal way to alert occupants, of either the entire building or specific floors, to the problem and what to do about it.
A good addition to a P A system is a call (or paging) system. This can be a bell, chime, or voice transmission that alerts a specific person or group of persons to an emergency without disturbing the rest of the building’s occupants.
An in-house emergency telephone system can be linked from the office manager’s office to each tenant’s office. The master phone can transmit a message to all commercial tenants at one time without dialing. The tenant then passes the word along to its own employees.
A “beeper” that generates a one-way signal is responded to by the employee picking up the nearest phone and getting the message from the security desk or the maintenance office.
Don’t overlook social media. There are several reasons why social media sites are being used more frequently for disseminating information before and during an emergency. First, a majority of the current U.S. population is participating in social media regularly. Using social media sites and tools for emergency communication can provide quick dissemination of information,
Operating Procedures Manual
A standard operating procedures manual should spell out these communications systems in detail and identify responsibilities. It should also advise on the action to be taken in the event there is a breakdown in the safety/security/system.
Telephone numbers that may be needed in emergencies can be pre-programmed into the building telephones and cell phones of all key building personnel. The numbers for fire and police departments, medical help, and all the major contractors (i.e., elevator maintenance, electrician, plumber, boiler service, etc.) should be programmed and also listed in handy sized booklets. The office manager should have the home phone numbers, as well as the office phone numbers, for chief mechanics and key contractors, because emergencies can happen at any hour of day or night.
The emergency telephone book should also contain the names of the property owner and the insurance agent. Often the building’s law firm is included in case a question of legal liability arises and an opinion is needed quickly.
Social media sites and others like them are increasingly being used for providing information (i.e., photos, videos, graphics, and text) before, during and after emergencies. This can include maps, evacuation instructions, evacuation site/shelter locations, and directions and evacuation routes.
There should be special emergency procedures for all physically handicapped people who work in the building. A current list of these people should be maintained so that special arrangements can be made to evacuate them in an emergency. Keep up with changes in technology. There are improved ways of quick communication developed every day.