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Tenant involvement theme of security seminar.

"Our mission is that you will walk away today with a plan or information you can put to work immediately," said Peter L. DiCapua, president of The Building Owners' and Managers' Association of Greater New York Inc. (BOMA/NY) in opening the joint BOMA/NY-REBNY seminar, "Building Security and Fire Safety in High-Rise Office Buildings" convened as a follow-up to the Trade Center bombing.

With that goal in mind, clips from the BOMAINY videos, "It's a Bomb!" and "What To Do Before, During and After A Fire" were shown, and a panel of experts from the New York City Police and Fire Departments, and a private security firm sounded the general message that tenants must be involved, informed and take responsibility for the role they play in implementing life safety procedures.

Murray A. Latzen, New York City Police Captain and Commanding Officer of the Crime Prevention Division, led off with a physical and fiscal analogy that advised, "Protect your assets by diversifying your investment security portfolio and develop a security mindset, thereby protecting your equity and reducing your deficit risk after security procedures are in place."

Urging a security audit of the perimeter, exterior and interior of a building as the best way to begin, Latzen advised seminar participants to "address critical areas and focus on how you can make them more secure. Balance your short-term interests (repairs) versus long-term gains (comprehensive upgrades.)"

"Keep your plan simple and don't keep it a secret -- security is everyone's business," the Police Captain continued. "Regular meetings, ongoing training, and communications such as newsletters and bulletins, are all critical. And plan -- and pre-plan--beyond terrorism for such emergencies as this past December's storm and the more recent storm of the century."

Bombs are obviously a key concern since the World Trade Center disaster. The Captain raised these questions for owners and managers to consider: Are any of your tenants, or neighboring tenants, politically sensitive? "Make sure you review evacuation procedures and determine who decides when to evacuate," said Latzen. "Have you done an explosive effects analysis--i.e. what happens when a bomb goes off? If a bomb explodes behind a glassed in area--you won't want your tenants walking in front of it to evacuate!"

Parking has been thrust into the forefront of security and Latzen offered these thoughts. "Determine if you want a tangible security presence, review your access control, who gets in, how and why. If you're going to inspect, you must advise truckers ahead of time, and have established professional search procedures," Latzen reminded the group.

Consider implementing separate areas for executive parking and deliveries, he continued, and conduct an audit of patrols, closed-circuit TV taping, emergency call distress procedures and lighting. "Lighting has powerful implications. Juries understand dark areas," the police captain warned. "Survey potential hiding places, make sure you have back-up battery packs and back-up generators."

Former Assistant Chief of Police Mickey Schwartz, who now heads the private security firm, Triumph Security Corporation, interpreted safety issues from the bottom-line perspective of ownership balancing need versus cost, and value of security in marketing versus the competition.

"The difference between public and private security is worlds apart -- I thought I knew all about it," said Schwartz of his transition from cop to corporate executive. "But I had to deal with such issues as what level of security does the owner want, how much does it cost and how can I make it cost effective so I can compete? I have to make an omelette without breaking an egg!"

Schwartz also found himself in a delicate balancing act --"tenants want security, for example, but they find sign-in/sign-out inconvenient and do not take the process seriously. Failure to sign-out recently caused a problem at a suspect fire when the Fire Department spent precious time searching for tenants -- they'll lock up securely at home but fail to do so after hours at wor k."

"We have to convey the message to the building team --including the tenant Fire Wardens -- that we are a security team and must know each other's responsibilities," said Schwartz, underscoring how difficult this can be in multi-tenant buildings which pose unique problems of their own. "You may have a public atrium, which helped the developer get a variance and hence a higher rent -- but you can't keep people out. Or, you may need to be very conscious of who your tenants are politically-sometimes you don't find out until you. read the paper that morning!"
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Title Annotation:The Building Owners' and Managers' Association of Greater New York Inc. seminar on handling emergencies involving buildings
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 12, 1993
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