It is essential that co-op and condo boards or management companies have an emergency plan in place for situations like fires, power blackouts, hostage situations, or terrorism. While good planning is a major factor in keeping residents safe, hardware like emergency lighting and signage also play a key role in emergencies. To that purpose, let’s examine the various products, technologies, and laws relating to the safe evacuation of your building in the case of an emergency.
An Emergency Management Plan
Although no New York City law requires that residential buildings have an emergency evacuation or management plan, experts generally agree that it’s smart for residential buildings to consider what they would do in the case of an emergency. At the very least, simple building layouts should mark floor plans so residents know how to get to the nearest exit. Exit signs—with a battery back-up that should last at least 90 minutes past a power outage, according to city code—should mark stairwells and doorways. And all residential buildings should have fire alarms.
Beyond those things, however, the city of New York doesn’t require that residential buildings formulate or maintain an emergency management or evacuation plan, nor do they require that these buildings make use of the photoluminescent exit path markings that are required by Local Law 26 of commercial buildings over the height of 75 feet.
When board members decide on formulating a plan, consult the experts.
“Certainly the homeowner’s association or condo board would want to hire professional qualified consultants to be involved,” suggests Rich Goldsby, vice president of operations for Defense Holdings, Inc. (DHI), the largest installer of photoluminescent materials in the United States and the firm that holds the largest contract—the Pentagon. One of DHI’s business units—Afterglow Federal—sells and installs photoluminescent safety systems in government buildings, while another subsidiary, Afterglow Technologies, does all of the company’s commercial sales and services in the New York City market.