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Building Safety Month: How will you celebrate?

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Founded by the International Code Council (ICC), Building Safety Month (BSM) is celebrated during the month of May. So: Happy Building Safety Month from all of us at Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services!

A public awareness campaign offered each year to help individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create and sustain safe and sustainable structures, Building Safety Month was created to reinforce the important need for industry professionals to adopt modern, model building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement and a well-trained, professional workforce.

Building codes are important safeguards designed to protect citizens from avoidable tragedies like fires, weather-related events and structural collapse. Model building codes are arguably the best way to protect homes, offices, and schools, manufacturing facilities, stores and entertainment venues.

Overseeing the introduction and implementation of such codes, the International Code Council is made up of a diverse group of professionals from industries including construction, design and safety. Corporations, government agencies, professional associations and nonprofit organizations support the annual May campaign in order to highlight the need for safe and sustainable structures where each of us live, work and play.

The ICC and its 50,000 worldwide members have made significant advances relative to the safe construction of building homes, apartment buildings, office structures and high rises—making sure that every new building is sustainable, affordable and resilient. This year’s theme is “Building Safety Month: Code Officials Keep You Safe.”

Throughout May, mini-themes will focus on particular areas of importance:

Week One / May 6-12, 2013
Fire Safety and Awareness

Week Two / May 13-19, 2013
Disaster Safety and Mitigation

Week Three / May 20-26, 2013
Backyard and Pool Safety

Week Four / May 27-31, 2013
Energy and Green Building

If you’d like to actively participate in BSM, there are a host of resources at your disposal; courtesy of the ICC. Resources include strategies on how to set up a Building Safety Month event, a fill-in-the-blank press release, a sample proclamation, kid’s activity pages, stickers, brochures, pencils and more. Some resources are available for free download and others may be purchased from the ICC Store.

Here are some more ideas for active participation in Building Safety Month:

  1. Promote Building Safety Month in your community.
  2. Promote BSM through your Chapter activities.
  3. Set up an information booth at your city hall or a place of business such as a local hardware store.
  4. Visit a school and give a presentation about building safety.
  5. Post local information on your website.
  6. Send a news release to newspapers, and radio and television stations.
  7. Encourage local media to cover Building Safety Month activities.
  8. Send public service announcements to local radio and television stations.
  9. Public information officers, city managers, or mayors could also arrange to appear on a talk/community information show through local television or radio stations.

If you’re about to embark on construction of a new building or home, try to remember that building codes are not arbitrarily established to make your life difficult. They are designed to keep you and everyone who visits your structure safe and sound.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Occupy Wall Street Movement—History and Risks to Property

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Are you prepared for an occupy movement?

The recent Occupy Wall Street protests brought more than 100,000 protestors to New York City on October 15th and now have reached 70 major cities. While the movement does not have official leadership, its main goals are to bring awareness to income inequality in the country, especially in regards to the “1%” of individuals who earn and hold a disproportionate amount of wealth, up to 40 percent in some studies. The popularity of the protests has even made them a NYC tourist attraction.

While many of the protesters are undoubtedly pacifists, there is the potential for violence, as recent clashes with law enforcement have demonstrated. The risks are inherent to property whenever large groups of people gather to vociferously demand something that is difficult to tangibly achieve. As time goes on, entrenched protestors might turn to mischief simply out of boredom or frustration. Building owners who encounter these types of protests should prepare to take steps to make sure their property remains protected at all times.

The first priority of property ownership is to ensure the safety of tenants, residents and/or employees. The second objective is to protect the integrity of the building. Here are some ideas for steps you could take as a property owner or manager to ensure both:

  • Post signage on your property stating that trespassing and/or camping is not permitted. Numerous signs will help you delineate your property. This type of signage could also help deter people from using your space in other objectionable ways.
  • Coordinate with local law enforcement. They should have a plan for where protestors would be allowed to congregate and which areas would be considered off limits.
  • Use barriers to deny access to important areas. If you have a sensitive part of your business that will be closed to short-term protests, then consider closing it down or blocking if entirely to avoid any issues.
  • Use window film to block the view into lower-level offices. You wouldn’t want tenants to feel harassed or nervous about the potential for violence if a group gathers outside.
  • Install video cameras with signs that clearly state the fact that your area is under constant surveillance. While video won’t likely stop organized protests, it can deter violent or vandalistic acts.
  • During the actual protests, consider hiring uniformed security officers to guard the perimeter of your building to discourage criminal behavior.

Hopefully, any protests in your area will remain peaceful expressions of free speech and will not turn to violence or unrest. By taking some proactive measures, you can better protect your building and tenants from potential harm

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

The United States of Emergency

Monday, March 8th, 2010
How is a State of Emergency Declared?

How is a State of Emergency Declared?

You’ve certainly heard about how the government declares “States of Emergency.” But have you ever wondered how exactly they go about making such declarations? Disasters of this scale involve substantial allocations of resources in terms of equipment, personnel and, of course, money.

With 59 FEMA major disaster declarations in 2009 and 12 already declared in 2010 (three, related to wild winter storms, have already been made in March), it is timely to look at how individual states declare emergencies and the role FEMA plays in reviewing and/or approving the allocation of federal funds.

Overall, how state and federal governments deal with emergencies is similar to how you, as a building owner or property manager, would handle any emergency. First, you assess the situation, ensuring that individual safety is the primary concern. Then, you look at the amount of damage that has been suffered and evaluate the anticipated costs for rebuilding and replacing, relative to money and labor.

Governors who are faced with large disasters go through several steps before requesting federal disaster assistance. The first step that FEMA takes is called a Preliminary Damage Assessment.

  • Personnel from FEMA and the affected state’s emergency management agency work together with local officials to survey the overall disaster and write an assessment.
  • This assessment helps the governor support a declaration request, as it gives an overall look at response effort costs including labor and related overtime. It also gives a thorough review of the state of emergency services’ capacity and the damage to citizen resources so the governor can show that the damage exceeds allocated state and local resources.
  • After the formal request is submitted to the regional FEMA office, FEMA considers the following when looking at any significant natural or manmade disaster to see if federal assistance is warranted:

For example, how many structures have been damaged? 10 homes or 1,000?  What about business? Was a large office park or manufacturing site affected which would reduce incomes of a large portion of the general population?

Can the public still use roadways or other transportation? Are basic services such as water and electricity working or are they likely to be quickly restored?

Are public health considerations necessary? Are local hospitals or other care centers affected?

  • What are the potential impacts to essential government services and functions?
    • Can the federal government better handle the work?
    • Does the overall scale of the disaster require assistance on a large scale?
    • How concentrated or disperse is the emergency? FEMA officials will work with State agencies to assess if there are enough state personnel available to manage the disaster.
  • What are the implications of insurance coverage for homeowners and public facilities?
    • If the area is one that lacks proper insurance coverage, then losses will be more severe and rebuilding effort timeframes will be lengthy.
    • State and local resource commitments from other prior disasters might stretch resources.
    • FEMA submits findings to the Office of the President.
    • The President decides if a Presidential Disaster Declaration should be made. If such a declaration is made, FEMA’s share of disaster expenses will be at least 75% of the total cost.

There are lessons about collaboration and preparation to be learned in the methodical approach that FEMA officials take to reviewing a disaster. We encourage building owners to engage tenants as valuable partners in safety and disaster planning.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.