Inside most multi-unit residential buildings, there are many areas that should be strictly off-limits to everyone but trained building staff—and we’re not just talking about the manager’s inbox. Machine rooms, elevator shafts, compactor areas, roofs, and other places used to house potentially dangerous equipment or materials are all spaces that must be kept secure for the safety of the residents—and to avoid costly liability issues for the building itself.
When asked what the most dangerous area of a building is, Peter Grech of the New York Superintendents Technical Association (NYSTA) answers with a laugh, “The board room!”
In all seriousness, however, Grech says, “The boiler room is probably the most dangerous place in a building. You’ve got flammable fluids in there and potential for CO2 gasses leaking, which is truly a silent killer. If you have gas leaks or oil vapors escaping, that can lead to explosions. Plus, in the boiler room you’ve got a lot of moving parts, which makes it easy to have an accident.”
Grech adds that there’s no reason why anyone other than staff should be entering these rooms in the first place. “It’s a place everyone should stay out of, especially with older boiler rooms that use pumps or fans. There’s great potential for an accident if you don’t know what you’re doing—and your Average Joe doesn’t.”
Lock ‘Em Up
This potential for serious injury or even death to those who don’t understand the inner workings of hazardous areas makes security a high priority. The most common way to keep curious people out is by using a lock, of course—and locks have come a long way since the days when you used a three-dollar combination model on your junior-high locker.