Some things to keep top of mind for condo fire safety
Question : Dear Maria; I am a new board member at my condo and I was thinking of bringing up a discussion on fire safety. What are some tips you can give on the topic?
Condominium buildings can present special fire safety concerns. When strictly enforced, local fire and construction codes can ensure that condos are designed to minimize the likelihood of a major conflagration. Fire alarm systems in condominium buildings are required to be tested annually in accordance with Alberta Law. The reason these inspections are mandatory is regular testing and maintenance of your fire alarm systems — including alarms, smoke detectors, emergency lighting and sprinkler systems — is because it saves lives in case of an emergency.
Do you know what to do if a fire starts in your condo? Here are some helpful tips that could save your life and others.
First and foremost—be prepared: Know your building and the emergency procedures that have been implemented for your condo’s fire safety plan. It is important to know where the nearest exits and stairwells are in the building as well as the fire alarms. Keep in mind that these locations may be inaccessible during a fire, so have an alternative escape plan. Establish a safe meeting place outside and away from the building. Assign a designated helper or point person for any individuals living in your unit that would require assistance to escape the fire. This could include, small children, elderly and/ or disabled individuals and of course our furry friends.
If you hear the fire alarms sound: Act, but don’t panic! Check the doorknob/handle for heat, if it’s not hot, brace yourself against the door and open slowly. If you feel no air pressure or heat
coming from the corridor begin your exit out of the unit and to the nearest exit. Close doors behind you and activate the fire alarm by using the pull stations. Use exit stairwells and leave the
building immediately. When you are in a safe place, telephone the fire department; never assume this has been done. Know the correct address to the condo building and never use the elevators and or return to your unit until instructed to do so
If you cannot exit the unit, close the door but leave it unlocked. Dial 911 and hang a sheet outside the window to get the firefighters attention. Use wet towels to seal any openings that the fire may make its way into the unit. Stay very close to the ground and place a wet rag over your mouth to lessen smoke inhalation. If you have a balcony, make your way to the balcony and close the
door behind you, or move to a protected area in the room and wait for rescue. If you have a cell phone bring it with you.
Fire inspection access into units: At some point, you would have received notice from your condo manager that the Fire Inspection Company requires access into your unit during the annual
fire inspection testing. Do NOT ignore this request. Part of the annual inspection is for the representative to check the smoke detectors, heat sensors and valves associated with the fire safety
devices inside your unit.
Combustibles and flammables: Do not belong inside a unit, storage facility or the parking enclosure. These can cause the risk of fire. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fire safety in condominium buildings. Help do your part to ensure compliance with Safety codes, and protect yourself and others that live in close proximity to you.
Dear Maria; I am new to my condo board and I’ve been asked to take down notes of our meetings. Why is this important? What should I keep on the notes?
As a Board member, have you ever asked yourself, what should go into the minutes and what should be left out of the minutes? Whether it’s questions on proper wording of motions, recording of
votes, insertion of reports, financials or subsequent information, it’s important to understand how to draft proper minutes. How about the privacy of unit owner information and minutes?
Meeting minutes are one of the most important documents for a condominium corporation because they contain vital information about the business of the corporation. As such, the accuracy of those minutes is very important.
I get it, minute taking can be overwhelming, challenging and can carry a big responsibility for the secretary or scribe. But, it’s also a very important task, and keeping a fair and unbiased
record of what transpired in these meetings is essential, especially if the board was being challenged in a court of law and the minutes are entered as evidence.
I know for a fact that New Concept Management Inc. is requested by some of our clients to be present at their board meetings to take down the minutes specifically. And as a management company you should always be willing to help in this regard.
The condo board minutes should reflect date and time, location of the meeting, quorum, whose in attendance, adjournment, next meeting date and all actions taken by the board of directors, including motions and votes, but not a summary of the discussion. Don’t include unsubstantiated or subjective information or opinions. It serves no one!
It’s also very crucial for a board to carefully consider the tone in which they choose to draft the minutes. Eventually, those minutes will become public information and if you’re not careful can adversely affect the value of the condo units. So be careful when drafting your minutes. If you’re not sure ask your condo manager. It’s also important for the condo board to
keep minutes of its regular and/or special board of directors meetings, as well as, the annual general meeting of the owners. With technology, this can easily be done via a
computer, email folder, cloud based programs or the old fashion way of a minute book, and of course the help of your management company. New Concept Management Inc. will always
keep a copy of the minutes on file for the condo corporation.
When it comes to privacy, the Condominium Corporation can collect, use, and disclose personal information of participants in a record of the meeting minutes. Generally, individuals who participate in AGM discussions are considered to have consented to the collection, use, and disclosure of their personal information in relation to their participation in the meeting.
For a meeting of the Board of Directors, attendees who provide their names and other personal information as part of a recorded meeting should be provided with notification. Any notes or electronic recordings taken at a meeting should only be kept until the minutes are approved, then destroyed. These suggestions may not cover everything that is involved in minute taking, but it should give you a sense of what to include and not include in your minutes.
Dear Maria; I’m hearing so much talk about Electric Vehicles (EV) is this something that we as a Board should be considering?
Answer Lets face it, with the way technology is progressing these days gas powered vehicles are no longer the only option available to the ecologically-conscious, tech savvy individual. Electric Vehicles are climbing in popularity.
On March 26, 2018, the province of Ontario released new regulations aimed at facilitating the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in existing condos. Am I shocked? No! To my understanding the City of Calgary is putting a strategy for electric vehicle in places. City data suggests that there are around 750 electric vehicles registered in Alberta and climbing.
Electric vehicles are cars that run off of electricity, instead of gasoline. They are powered by rechargeable batteries, which are charged by everyday electricity. Some types of electric vehicles also include a gasoline engine to extend the car’s maximum driving range. Charging stations are used to supply electricity to the car and can be built into someone’s home and can be found in public spaces.
According to the city, one of the objectives includes encouraging quicker adoption of electric vehicles to aid in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the City, the objectives
of the Electric Vehicle Strategy are to:
• respond to the growing demand for electric vehicle infrastructure and services,
• encourage/support faster adoption of electric vehicles to aid in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
• build partnerships across Alberta to provide an electric vehicle charging network within the province that connects to other provinces or states,
• establish what role The City, partner organizations and the private sector should play in providing electric vehicle infrastructure and services, and
• increase awareness and create enthusiasm among the public and industry about electric vehicles.
In my personal opinion, it’s only a matter of time before Alberta adopts the same type of regulations that Ontario has and mandates that Alberta condos add a charging station in
their parking facility. With that said, should boards start talking about adding charging stations in their condominium buildings? Or remain in the past and ignore future expectations
of a changing world. Transportation is changing quickly, and charging a car rather than filling up the tank seems to be the way of the future. Something to consider!