As we sit in our buildings all over the city, we'd like to think that we're protected from emergencies by our sprinkler systems, electronic alarm systems and staff. However much we don't want to think about it, an emergency situation can happen, and your building should be prepared.
Because condo and co-op buildings in the New York metro area can vary so much, from the spread-out suburban-style condo in Long Island or eastern Queens to the landmark high-rise on Central Park West, making an individual, customized disaster plan is a must.
The best place to address a customized emergency plan is at a board meeting. Putting emergency planning at the top of the agenda, however, might be a tough sell in some buildings because many residents are more concerned with day-to-day happenings.
James Freeman is a man who is familiar with all kinds of apartment buildings—he's both the president of the Inwood Tenants Association and the president of his co-op board on Park Terrace West. "The number one priority for a board," he says, "is to focus on something that's of immediate concern. Planning is a wise thing, but it is preventive. Boards often respond to immediate pressure—neighbors rarely complain about an inadequate fire escape plan, they complain about cockroaches."
Initiating a Plan
It might be a bit of a mission, but getting emergency preparedness onto the agenda of your next board meeting is important. At the meeting, the board should be aware of the main types of emergencies an urban multi-family building should prepare for.