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Variety of Emergencies, Relationships Demand Attention


Property managers need to be ready for a variety of emergencies, and to know their building's potential vulnerabilities. Add a retail component to the building and you increase the vulnerability.

Amy Lind, senior vice president for Transwestern, says that in Chicago, property managers share emergency response plans with the city, and they should be prepared for emergencies beyond fires, such as loss of power and active shooters. "It''s really important to ensure that the plan is practical," she says. To do that, the entire team should be involved — management, security, the engineering group, and tenants — plus local authorities. The active-shooter training, she says, "is not meant to scare people, but it's better for everyone to have some best practices in their head if, unfortunately, this would ever happen."

Get to know the property managers in neighboring buildings, advises Debby Pyznarski, senior general manager in Chicago for Lincoln Property Co. If a situation arises in one of those buildings and the property manager knows Pyznarski, that manager may let her know what's happening. "Forewarned is forearmed," she says.

Also in the area of relationship-building, Pyznarski, the wife and daughter of police officers, stresses the value of getting on a first-name basis with first responders and municipal government contacts. "I know my policemen and firemen and municipalities personally," she says. "I invite them to the building, I invite them to train in the building. I also know I can call them and find out what's really happening."

Staging the training takes a little forethought, so tenants know what's happening, but it pays off, Pyznarski says. "I put out a sign in the lobby: 'To all the tenants: The Rosemont police department is training here today. Please don't be alarmed by the presence of police and fire equipment.' The tenants love it because they feel safe, and they know we have a true relationship with our municipality."

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