Building owners and managers must develop or update a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan for each building based on reasonable threat analyses to prepare for future emergencies and to provide a safe working environment for their tenants. Industry guidelines and any federal, state or local regulations must recognize that emergency preparedness plans for individual buildings will differ and that a “one-size-fits-all” approach is unworkable and ill-advised.
BOMA International has been actively involved in developing best practices in emergency and security preparedness throughout its history. Office building security and emergency preparedness has always been a top concern, and since 9/11 we have shifted considerable resources to meet the increased security needs of buildings. BOMA has published tools for property managers to evaluate security preparedness, create evacuation plans, and perform risk assessments on their properties.
BOMA and its members have responded aggressively locally, regionally, and nationally to further prepare the nation’s office buildings for any future emergencies. This has been a cooperative effort between the public and private sector to the benefit of all. This effort will continue as new procedures and tools are developed to defend our critical infrastructures.
The real estate industry also successfully lobbied to have the federal government’s definition of critical infrastructure expanded to include real estate so it could develop direct ties with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The result was the creation of the Real Estate Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REISAC), a public-private partnership for the purpose of exchanging information on terrorist threats and response planning. BOMA also partners with the U. S. Department of Homeland Security as the only commercial real estate association to participate in the formation of regional security networks out of Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Seattle. These Homeland Security Information Networks for Critical Infrastructure will expand the industry’s communications network, as well as develop systems to work even more cooperatively with local law enforcement to protect our communities.
Since 9/11, the office building industry has more than doubled its expenditures in providing a safe and prepared office environment, according to BOMA’s Experience Exchange Report (EER). BOMA continues to hold nationwide audio conferences, seminars, and workshops on emergency preparedness topics to get information into the right hands. And in every jurisdiction in this country, communications are being coordinated far better among buildings, agencies, and tenants to ensure a quick response should any threat materialize. Building evacuation drills continue to be practiced throughout the country so that building owners and managers, as well as tenants know what to do in case of emergency.
BOMA International members should develop comprehensive emergency preparedness plans for each building they own or manage. If these comprehensive plans are already provided, they must be updated on a regular basis to reflect changing perils and threats. BOMA International also urges its members to participate in the development of effective communication networks so that the real estate industry can receive timely information to assist in responding to all types of emergencies.
BOMA members should cooperate with government officials at the federal, state, and local level so that these officials recognize that emergency planning for buildings must be tailored to each unique situation.