By Linda O’Flanagan
It took less than two minutes for the 5.9 earthquake in Mineral, Va. to be felt hundreds of miles away in New York City.
And only minutes later, building teams across the city had already sprung into action.
The Building Owners & Managers Association of NY today detailed how their members e-blasted up-to-the-minute information as it came in from the alert systems of the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Office of the Mayor, while monitoring the situation, and building teams enacted their Emergency Action Plans (EAPs).
The EAPs, now required by Local Law 26, were one of the lessons learned of 9/11 and detail procedures for building staff and tenants to undertake in a wide range of emergency scenarios.
The enactment of EAPs allows for discretionary decisions by the on-site building teams, and so managers responded as their individual situation dictated—some sheltered in place, some determined no physical action was necessary and served instead as a constant source of information via such tenant communication systems as Workspeed, Send Word Now and NYC Notify, as well as the public address systems.
“We did what we are trained to do,” said BOMA/NY president Edward Fallon, RPA. “We got information to our members, and they in turn, were getting information to their buildings as to which procedures to follow.
“The key thing in any emergency,” he added, “is for tenants to know the plan and take it seriously. EAPs are created by preparedness professionals, and it is essential that tenants should follow the procedures that they practice during the drills and any instructions they receive that day.”
As to how the city’s office buildings fared, Louis Trimboli, LEED AP/RPA/FMA, who co-chairs BOMA/NY’s Preparedness Committee said, “It was a bad event, but I think we managed it really well.”
Ironically, the next blow from Mother Nature may come over the weekend when Hurricane Irene may track up the East Coast, delivering winds and rain that can cause significant damage. Once again, the building EAPs will be in effect, not only to protect lives, but the physical damage that could result in its wake.