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Physical Safety and Security Programs; Condo’s Respond to New Risks and Adapt Operations amid COVID-19

Leadership throughout the security management industry continue to rapidly adapt due to the challenges presented during the COVID-19 response. The industry is making significant advancements in services to their buildings which benefit the clients they serve and the public – creating safer buildings

Workplace Safety Advancements

Your condominium is a “workplace” and while the COVID-19 parameters are rapidly changing, the legislation used to govern Ontario’s workplaces are not. 

Under Ontario law, employers have the duty to keep workers and workplaces safe and free from hazards.  Workers still have the right to refuse unsafe work. If health and safety concerns are not resolved internally, a worker can seek enforcement by filing a complaint with the Ministry of Labour. 

In March, Ontario witnessed 1,440 complaints about workplace safety related to COVID-19.  That number was up from only 14 in February according to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

COVID-19 is changing how we manage and prepare our building staff with policies and procedures.  At every building, there’s a stack of binders sitting at the security desk.  The information is both difficult to navigate and maintain, but required reading by all staff before being assigned any role within the building.  In fact, I would suggest that these binders are used on a daily basis to review internal operating and safety procedures.

It is these documents that are required to be reviewed and updated within the workplace due to the COVID 19 hazard in the workplace.  One security provider in Toronto has not only updated their safety plans to reflect the new hazard, but they have also updated emergency response procedures and reduced the need for staff to share resources and equipment.

Pennine Security Solutions, a physical security company protecting several dozen high-rise condominiums in the Greater Toronto Area, recently launched a mobile application that allows their guards to digitally access the site’s Standard Operating Procedures and Health & Safety Procedures from their smart device – from anywhere in the building

“We needed a solution that from a leadership perspective made it easy to immediately roll-out updates as the COVID-19 hazards change.  Now, we can do this instantly and without additional costs. Physical distancing, revisions and Personal Protective Equipment requirements needed to be “worked” into almost every policy and procedure within our organization and we take our efforts to reducing our staff’s cross contamination risks very seriously,“ explained Matthew Williams, President of Pennine Security Solutions

Security, similar to all employers in Ontario, are required “to take every reasonable precaution for the safety of workers (OHSA)” during the pandemic.  

The employer is responsible to “prove” this due diligence under the Act, and to be compliant with the OHSA general duty clause; a workplace specific hazard assessment must be performed.  It is that documented hazard assessment that a workplace and/or supervisor can implement appropriate risk elimination and/or mitigation actions.

In 2018, there were 907 convictions under the Occupational Health & Safety Act in Ontario resulting in over 12.6 million dollars in fines. 

Health and Safety also needs to be a priority for Condo Boards and property managers who can be identified as workplace supervisors under the Act.  A supervisor is a person appointed by an employer who is in charge of a workplace or has authority over a worker. A supervisor can be called a manager, team leader, coordinator and other titles. 

A picture says more than 1,000 words

Security providers in Canada have long been innovative in their relentless pursuit to deliver impactful services that resonate further than just security risks – and protect the corporation.   The role of a physical security program has far reaching benefits to building owners in the daily documentation of risks and hazards.

Increased “virtual patrols” are only half of the answer as COVID-19 has forced condominium residents to stay home and therefore created reduced surveillance. 

Additionally, pedestrian and vehicular traffic in and around the building has been significantly decreased.  This generates a new security concern for buildings due to the reduction of the amount of natural surveillance that residents and visitors create.

Proactive security service providers and property managers of residential buildings have increased security patrols through the effective use of existing security cameras. 

Increasing patrols conducted by security and concierge help to ensure a safe and secure building.  These patrols, at minimum, should entail a review of each camera, extending to the entire camera view, and be documented in detail. 

Physical patrols should continue but viewed through a prioritized lens.

“By adding additional patrols, it allows for the full and active use of equipment at your building without adding additional costs,” stated Jason Reid, Senior Advisor for National Life Safety Group.

“In addition, it allows for detailed “digital” documentation of these patrols – something each organization may need in the coming months.”

According to recent WSIB statistics, over 17,000 people miss time from work every year due to slip, trip or fall incidents in Ontario.  The numbers for slip, trip and fall claims also remain high in residential buildings and not only represent a liability to the boards, but they can be costly.

An average employee WSIB claim costs $12,000.   This climbs to $59,000 when you consider costs including lost productivity, incident investigation, administration and staff replacement.   This can be costly for Condo Corporations and another prime example of an opportunity for building security teams to eliminate, reduce or provide evidence to defend against incidents.

Pennine Security is the first security company in Ontario, to begin daily photographing of sidewalk conditions at the buildings they protect. 

“The photographs not only serve as evidence of our inspections, but they also allow our guards to positively impact the safety of residents and visitors, while allowing us to identify trip and slip hazards,” explained Mathew Williams, President of Pennine Security Solutions.

The mobile application called Safe Buildings permits Pennine’s security team to digitally track the Condo Corporation’s daily fire, safety and security checks, with photographic evidence. 

“At a time where fraudulent claims may increase, the security industry is responding as fast as the challenges are presenting themselves,” said Jason Reid. 

“Evidence of your workplace response to COVID-19 will likely be required in the coming months to defend your building and workplace actions.  With advancement in the industry and growth of ROI in condo security – the glass is half full!”

Documenting evidence in condos amid COVID-19

Industry should prepare for demand for evidence due to losses and claims 

Property managers in Canada are no strangers to putting out fires. They often tackle some form of crisis on a weekly basis and are good at what they do. Fortunately, their dedication continues—along with boards, they remain highly engaged in COVID-19 response efforts, resulting in safer condominiums.

One specific crisis industry should prepare for is the demand for evidence in the coming months due to losses and/or claims. This is an excellent time for both property managers and boards to begin virtual table-top discussions on the corporation’s “risk posture” with respect to documentation, of which lawyers and insurance companies will require in the months to come.

Here are some items to consider with your property leadership team.

Employee communications

Ensure the corporation and your leadership teams are able to identify the when and what you informed your staff about regarding both preventative measures in the workplace and employee safety. Keep track of dates, times and content. This should include documentation and acknowledgements of changes to policies and procedures.

Slips, trips and falls

In Ontario, this is one of the leading claims in the facility and property management industry. The risk for claims will continue and may even rise in the coming months. Your organization should be documenting daily checks of walkways, lobby entrances, lobby interiors and parking lots. These daily checks should not only be documented once completed, the weather and ground conditions should also be noted in the documentation as well. Simply conducting and documenting exterior lighting inspections at night will also allow you to provide ongoing evidence of due diligence to protect your corporation. If all this sounds like additional work and costs – it’s not. I would expect my security team to already be doing this as a standard practice.

Building cleaning

For a corporation to say it has enhanced cleaning in a building in response to COVID-19, is simply not enough. Documentation of when and what will likely be requested in the event of an insurance or loss claim. The evidence of enhanced cleaning provides your corporation with improved resident safety and a defendable platform in the event of loss. It’s a win-win.

Document the basics

The risk of a specific crisis in your building is higher today than it was a month ago, simply due to the population being at capacity 24 hours a day. More cooking means increased risk of fires, for instance.

Here’s a brief list of items that your corporation should document and/or have evidence of completion in order to mitigate against some specific issues that can be overlooked.

Monthly tests of elevator emergency communications

Every elevator has either an emergency telephone system or bell button that residents can use to communicate problems in the elevator, such as a medical emergency or an entrapment. Make sure that your staff are not only testing these systems for function, but they are confirming the audibility is clear, so it works in the event the system is needed. Document this test every 30 days.

Weekly tests of sprinkler and standpipe pumps

A fire pump needs to work in the event of a high-rise fire. Your building’s fire pump is required to be run every seven days by building staff. Ensure that this is being both completed and documented.

First aid kits and monthly inspections of AEDs.

Regulation 1101 in Ontario requires that first aid kits in condo workplaces be fully stocked and inspected every 30 days. While most AEDs are now equipped with self-check features, this life-saving vital equipment is required to be inspected every 30 days. Make sure it’s still where it is needed.

Carbon monoxide detection systems

Your condo’s underground parking garage is protected by a CO detection system that requires an annual calibration and a monthly inspection to acknowledge that there are no existing troubles or alarms. This monthly check should be documented with a date, time and who completed the check. It is this evidence that will create a defendable platform and provide enhanced safety for residents.

Security camera operations and recordings

Your condominium is likely protected by CCTV systems and their functionality is vital to the safety and security of your building. Daily checks should be documented to indicate that the building’s camera systems are all functioning and recording. I cannot stress enough how many times an incident has occurred at a building only to find out that the system was not recording at the time of incident, or that the camera image was unusable due to malfunctioning camera. This not only shows a non-defendable platform, but also creates new liabilities. This should be documented daily.

Communication of emergency procedures

Residential building fires have increased in Ontario over the past two months. Reminding residents of the building emergency procedures is vital at this time. As basic due diligence, every condo in Ontario should provide a copy of the “Resident Section” of the building’s approved fire safety plan, to each resident in the building.

Every fire safety plan is required to be reviewed and updated every 12 months in Ontario. It is this fire safety plan that contains both building staff and resident approved emergency procedures. Print the email that you send to the residents containing their procedures and maintain this documentation as part of your due diligence.

What work did you stop doing and why?

By now, all condominium amenities have been closed. If not, your organization owns that liability. Stating why you closed the amenities is going to protect your organization in the months to come. It should be documented that you closed these amenities after careful consideration of both local and international public health guidelines and that resident safety could simply not be achieved with the limited cleaning resources available. The parameters you used to close the facilities may be requested 18 months from now.

Record the date and times of when and why these amenities were closed to provide information that may be used to show a pattern of informed decisions by your board, allowing for the basis of a defendable platform against claims.

Smoke Control in Ontario High-Rise Buildings

In addition to the fire safety plan, Part 7 of the Ontario Fire Code (OFC) requires that a building-specific smoke control Inspection and testing document containing an equipment list and associated testing requirements be maintained at each high-rise building in Ontario.

The building Owner is required to ensure that tests and inspections are carried out on these systems as required in the Engineered document.

The spread of smoke and toxic gas is recognized as a major hazard in all structure fires and in high-rise buildings, smoke can travel from the fire quickly. Smoke control systems can assist in mitigating the impacts to occupants and arriving fire services.

Confirm your building’s smoke control systems have been tested as required and are fully functioning. If you are unsure, we can help.


Steven Christodoulou is using technology to digitally track their response to COVID-19 and enhance safety at all ICC condominium high rises and townhouses located in the Greater Toronto Area – representing over 26,000 units.

The founder and Chief Visionary Officer of ICC Property Management Inc. worked with Toronto tech firm Safe Buildings to begin digitizing the industry’s first digital risk management program.  It allows ICC staff to access building operations information while respecting work from home and social distancing guidelines at the building.

Gone are the cumbersome clipboards and manual reports that are touch points in the workplace that can often go missing from properties or are incomplete.  A problem Christodoulou’s team may not have determined until municipal fire inspectors visited a property and requested the paper trail.

Instead, cleaning, safety and security checks are being replaced with a digital checklist, part of an easily implemented technology that’s as simple to use as tapping one’s thumb on a smart phone. 

The initiative, rolled out by ICC several weeks ago, has proven to deliver significant benefits for their COVID-19 response, allowing building management team to remotely access the building’s fire code compliance status – from home. 

“We wanted to support our teams in the field and the technology needed to provide a return on investment to our Boards.  From an operational perspective the application pays for itself,” said Judy Statham, President of ICC in Toronto.

The technology has allowed ICC property managers to digitally track safety and security compliance and the cleaning of targeted touch points, along with other COVID-19 response considerations. 

“As an industry, we are all taking steps to enhance employee and resident safety and with technology we can remain at the forefront,” said Statham.

The technology, currently being rolled out at each ICC property, will also provide building staff with secure access to emergency procedures from anywhere on the property. 

“Board members may access this as part of a condo corporation’s business continuity plan, something that we are taking very seriously here at ICC.  This makes it easy to implement protocols at each of our buildings and allow us to apply lessons learned – strengthening our portfolio of communities,” Statham stated.

“The problem with the way we were doing it before was that it was manual and there was no way of proving compliance to our Boards.  As a property manager, you have to be a jack of all trades and navigating through the fire and safety code requirements can be difficult,” said Christodoulou.

“ICC is the first property management company in Canada to use this technology across the organization which positively impacts over 50,000 Ontarians who live in their managed buildings,” expressed Jason Reid, Developer and Technical Advisor for Safe Buildings in Toronto.

“The technology is changing how we look at evidence of compliance.  Most organizations do great work and complete their safety, security checks.  The problem is that they lack the evidence of completion.  ICC’s platform can provide both date, time and photographic stamped evidence that elevates the standard of care in a building and takes it to unprecedented levels to protect residents.”

The Safe Building’s Technology has allowed for some Canadian firsts

  • One of the first condominiums in Canada to digitally track fire code compliance with date and time stamped evidence of compliance – available 24 hours a day from anywhere.
  • On of the first condominiums in Canada who’s building staff have significantly reduced response time with secure digital access to the building’s emergency procedures for fire and flood emergencies – from anywhere in the building. 
  • The first portfolio of condominiums in Canada to provide digital access to the location of shut-off valves – 6 minutes faster than any other building.  Reducing costs associated with damages and resident impacts during emergencies. (Based on live time trials)
  • One of the first condominiums in Canada to offer the arriving Fire Services with secure digital access to a list of vulnerable occupants and where the pets live in the building – saving time and saving lives.

“Taking our fire safety plans digital, we will be reducing our annual fees across a portfolio of 200 buildings and the benefits in reduced costs are proudly shared by the properties we manage.  This allows us to reduce annual recurring fees and provide better service to clients,” explained Judy of ICC. 

ICC is not the only property management company to utilize technology to enhance safety and security within condominiums.  Other companies are also realizing the value of technology both up front and down-stream. 

“By going digital, we are supporting building staff with the right tools to have a direct impact on resident safety before and during emergencies.  That’s what makes this exciting technology so appealing,” expressed Lisa Rapisardi, an ICC Condo Manager in Toronto.

“Code requirements can be broken down into daily, weekly, monthly and annually – that’s a lot to remember when you’re overseeing the day-to-day operations of a building during these trying times. Forgetting even one of these checks can pose huge issues for a property manager when fire inspectors visit,” she admitted. 

“We went digital two months ago – I receive a report every morning!”

That’s why Lubko Belej, General Manager of The Residences of Maple Leaf Square, managed by Del Property Management, started using the Safe Buildings technology last summer.

“In addition to straightforward compliance benefits, the implementation of this technology allows us to easily access the lists of residents needing assistance during emergencies, pets in the building, fire safety and emergency response plans.  Even the floor plans for two towers with 872 suites can be accessed digitally by my staff – faster than any other building in Canada I’m proud of that,” Lubko exclaimed.

“Safe Buildings can prevent emergencies by making staff aware of potential issues, from obstacles in the parking garage to expired fire extinguishers, before they arise.”

“Doing the daily checks, we can see some of the safety issues that might pop up. If a report isn’t done, I get a notification. Then, I can ask our staff why it wasn’t done and to complete it so that we have the evidence – and keep our residents safe,” Lubko added.

“The adoption of technology in managing risk and compliance in residential condominiums must allow a building to measure compliance daily and be remotely accessible.  It should provide residual benefits to the community it serves,” said Reid.   

“Currently, there are condominiums in the GTA digitally tracking the cleaning of touch points in the building every three hours as part of their COVID-19 response plan.  If they forget, the staff are reminded until it’s completed, and the date and time stamped evidence is maintained forever.  In risk management, it’s this evidence of completion that’s as important as the task.”


VIDEO: Pandemic Planning & Lessons Learned from COVID 19.

Jason Reid of National Life Safety Group, shares considerations and insights along with industry leaders with Canadian Security magazine.

Neglecting Legal Responsibilities Leads to Loss of Life, Property and Public Trust

Fire offence convictions by the numbers:

300: Number of Toronto building owners charged with fire code violations in 2016

$1,550,297: Fire code fines imposed on Toronto building owners in 2015

3: Years in jail for criminal negligence causing death handed to a Toronto landlord who failed to heed fire safety orders before a 2016 fatal rooming house fire.

2019: Fire Code Fines in Ontario Increase significantly.

2020: Fire Services are using “data driven” Fire Inspections to enhance community safety – Seeing each high-rise every 12 months.

The numbers don’t lie, and the high-profile media coverage of many recent fires causing casualties and billions in financial losses are now top of mind with the public and government regulators who are looking to send a clear message to landlords that have failed to meet their legal obligations.

On July 13, a Toronto landlord pled guilty, after admitting they failed to implement an approved fire safety plan, a fatal mistake that tragically contributed to the death of four building residents in a 2016 fire. The building owner was fined the maximum allowable of $100,000, sending a clear message to the industry and beyond.

Another landlord was also fined $71,000 after a fatal 3-alarm blaze in a Toronto apartment, where a stairwell door that did not latch properly allowed smoke to fill a stairwell, claiming the life of a woman in her 30’s. Her toddler son lost his mother that day, and it was entirely preventable.

Fire life safety programs are designed to provide the required checks and inspections of stairwell doors, to prevent such tragedies from occurring. Stairwells are safe, yet if one door is not working, smoke has an opportunity to fill the stairwell and preventing the safe evacuation of residents.

These devastating lessons both here and similar tragedies in the UK, demonstrate the crucial need for professionally developed and executed fire safety programs. It is a matter of life and death.

Fire safety plans are required for most buildings and occupancies, yet sadly, many buildings either lack a plan, they are badly outdated, are inaccessible, or are not properly implemented.

There are three (3) key benefits to maintaining a professional, updated and accessible building fire safety plan that every property owner and manager should thoroughly understand: 

  1. Building Owner / Property Manager Benefits

It’s the law. Fire safety plans are required by law, and must be reviewed and updated at least annually. Once properly developed and implemented, they provide valuable building fire safety information for occupants, property managers, and owners – and provide the foundation of any due diligence program.

A professional fire safety plan provides detailed instructions on the many requirements of the fire code, which owners need to comply with in respect to daily, weekly, monthly and annual test and inspections of building life safety systems and equipment. It’s important to note that out of 100 buildings reviewed in the last six months, only eight percent were found to have accurately documented daily inspection requirements. This is alarming.

Every morning at the start of your building’s Security / Concierge / operator’s shift, you should be confident, through a brief inspection, that my fire alarm system for the building is trouble free and functioning. (Just one of the daily checks required.)

Another direct benefit to building owners is the opportunity to have an approved fire safety plan, for building staff training. It is the training of staff, on the roles and procedures outlined in the approved plan that provides the building owner confidence that both their staff can effectively respond, and that they have given the tools to their staff to implement the plan in the event of an emergency. Every building owner should be able to provide proof that their building staff have been trained on the approved fire safety plan.

It is this training of supervisory staff that must be completed before being assigned any building safety duties, such as a concierge, security, property manager or superintendent.  The training should be site specific based on their building’s approved fire safety plan. Upon completion, this training must be documented and serve as an integral part of the due diligence program for the building.

  1. Benefits to Building Occupants / Tenants

Fire safety plans also provide tenants and residents detailed instructions on fire and emergency procedures, including actions to take in the event of a fire, evacuation and shelter in place requirements.  This is a direct benefit to occupants, because each building has different life safety features and procedures.

The Fire Safety Plan should come with a resident / tenant handout, that describes that the decision to leave a suite during a fire alarm is that of the resident, only after reviewing evacuation procedures found within the buildings approved fire safety plan, including discussing human behavior in fires, challenges to the fire department response in high-rises, as well as emergency preparedness for Persons Requiring Assistance during evacuations. These resident / tenant procedures allow residents to make informed decisions at time of a fire alarm, and should be provided to both residents, tenants and building trades every year.

  1. Benefits to First Responders and Municipal Emergency Services

Building fire safety plans must be approved by the authority having jurisdiction, in most cases this would be local fire services. Approved fire safety plans provide tactical reference tools to effectively respond in a timely manner to building emergencies.

Clear and concise tools such as use of life safety systems, smoke control, floor plan drawings, isolation points for sprinklers, HVAC, gas and electrical can decrease response times and contribute to firefighter safety and enhanced occupant safety.

In addition to the fire response, fire safety plans have also been widely utilized as a tactical tool for specialty response teams such as the municipal police services and Emergency Task Forces. Certain building information and detailed floor plans may be used to provide rapid support to first responders in the event of active violent incidents, suspicious packages and criminal acts in both workplace facilities and residential buildings. This type of proactive planning significantly enhances the safety of building occupants.

If your plan is outdated, if the information is incorrect and not easily accessible, it will delay emergency operations that could cost lives and expose your organization to significant risk and liabilities. Be prepared.

jasonreidJason Reid

Jason is Senior Advisor for National Life Safety Group, an industry leading consulting firm specializing in infrastructure protection, fire safety and emergency management across Canada and around the world.

Property Managers and Owners: Are you prepared for a Post Fire Incident?

By Jason D. Reid, Senior Advisor, National Life Safety Group

“What documentation will be reviewed after a serious fire incident at my building ?”

“What can I do as a property manager or building owner to ensure that I protect my residents?

“As a property owner, how do I protect myself?”

Jason Reid of National Life Safety Group suggests “As with all fire incidents, questions arise about how the incident was responded to by building staff.  Then, questions begin about how the incident was prepared for by building managers and owners.

These questions will review both the actions of building management before, and during the incident.

“It’s why we have standards for fire safety in Ontario,” explained Reid.

As a high level overview, if you manage a residential high-rise building in Ontario, ensure you have the following documentation readily available at all times at your property:

1) Evidence of Test and Inspection of your building’s Life Safety Systems

Each residential building is different and can have a range of life safety systems installed such as fire alarm systems, emergency voice communication systems, sprinkler and standpipe systems, smoke control systems, gas detection systems, as an example.

If you are an owner of a building, or a condominium board represented through a property manager, you need to be able to produce a document or a report that states you have tested and inspected the building’s life safety equipment as required by the Ontario Fire code for the last 12 months.  This includes any reports for daily, weekly and monthly preventative maintenance requirements.

2) An Approved and Current Fire Safety Plan

Fire Safety Plans are required for almost all residential buildings.  An approved Fire Safety Plan is a document that provides guidance to building owners and managers on their requirements for fire safety.  In addition, it provides direction to residents on fire safety procedures.   Fire Safety Plans are always approved by the local fire services.  At any time, you as the building owner, should be able to provide a current and up-to-date Fire Safety plan that has been approved by the local fire services, and has been reviewed and signed off by the building owner within the last 12 months.

If the original plan is more than 10 years old, have it redeveloped as 2018 building safety best practices have significantly changed to better protect residents.

3) Evidence of building staff training

The Fire Safety Plan is just that, a plan – until it is implemented.  In order to implement the plan, building staff must be made aware of their roles and responsibilities as outlined in the plan.  Building owners and managers should be able to produce a document or letter confirming that the building staff have been trained in the approved Fire Safety Plan, which acknowledges the implementation of the plan. This includes training of superintendents, security, concierge, cleaning staff and property management staff.  Typically, a letter that encompasses a sign in list that staff participated in the training is best.

4) Evidence of a current list of PRA’s

Within your Fire Safety Plan, building owners are required to maintain a document that outlines residents on the list of “Persons Requiring Assistance during Evacuation.”  This list will typically identify their names and suite numbers and is provided to emergency services upon their arrival to the building.  It is vital that it is kept up to date.  This list is truly a partnership between building management and residents, and the PRA list must be date, and reviewed at minimum every 12 months.  This is a requirement of the Ontario Fire Code.

5) Evidence of Fire Drills

In Ontario, supervisory staff of high-rise buildings must complete quarterly drills that allows them to practice / review their respective roles and responsibilities outlined within the Fire Safety Plan.

Each drill must be documented and staff of high-rise buildings are required to hold a minimum of four Fire drills per year. This signifies that you are required to have four fire drill documents.  Fire drills are meant to prepare and test staff on a regular basis and are a crucial component of continuous building staff training.

6) Evidence of Resident Fire Drill / Communication of Emergency Procedures

Ensure that you as a property manager or building owner have communicated emergency procedures to residents at minimum every 12 months, or provided them an opportunity to practice / review their own roles and responsibilities in the plan.  It is important that residents are reminded at least annually of the fire alarm procedures, and their own respective roles and responsibilities.

If you manage a residential high-rise building in Ontario, ensure you have your documentation readily available at all times at your property.


About National Life Safety Group

National Life Safety Group is a trusted fire, safety and emergency management consultancy firm. We provide leadership and innovation to the safety, security and property operations industries.

We specialize in: Fire Safety Plans, Team Development and Training, Fire, Life Safety, and Code Compliance, Workplace Emergency Management, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Evacuation Drill and Exercise Design, Workplace Education: Lunch and Learn, and Emergency Response Plans

Contact: Main: 647-794-5505  Toll Free: 1-877-751-0508

CONDO’S AND COVID-19: Documenting the Response through the lens of Fire, Safety, Security and Emergency Management



To download the free resource tool visit our home page at:

Building Managers of high-rise condominiums are a shining example of professionals both leading and supporting their family of residents during these unprecedented times. 

They are leaders in our communities that represent hundreds of thousands of people’s homes – right here in the GTA,” said Jason Reid, Senior Advisor of National Life Safety Group. 

“The building management professionals and their industry associations are a vital tool in protecting the entire community.”   

Jason will review the “Safety & Security Tracking Planner“ to support our communities’ response to COVID-19.  This is a free resource, with a focus on fire, safety and security – and how best to engage, and document, the discussion with Boards.  

This exciting webinar, brought to you by Condo Adviser features an industry-wide Crisis Prevention Cell comprised of leading experts.


  • Status Update: including from various regulatory bodies
  • Federal Invoking the Quarantine Act: Impact on condos
  • Safety and Security precautions and long term planning
  • Capital projects: scheduling, postponing, securing contractors and resources


  • Jason Reid (National Life Safety Group)
  • Sandy Foulds (Wilson Blanchard Management)
  • Katherine Gow (ACMO)
  • Rod Escayola (Gowling WLG)
  • Denise Lash (Community Association Institute (Canada) /Lash Condo Law)
  • Graeme MacPherson (Gowling WLG)
  • David Plotkin (Gowling WLG)


National Life Safety Group is proud to be a part of this webinar series and thanks Condo Adviser for the opportunity to discuss this timely topic amongst a panel of speakers who are passionate about their industry – and sharing their knowledge.

Suspicious Incident Awareness & Physical Security

 With recent and unfortunate security incidents occurring in Canada, coupled with an ongoing Pandemic, proactive public & private sector security programs managers are educating their front line security staff, as well as business units across their organization.  Front Line Security is being briefed on situational awareness tactics in recognizing suspicious incidents, and immediately reporting them during times of heightened risk / threats.

Senior Managers in business units that work hand in hand with your organization are being similarly briefed

Business units like customer service staff and operations personnel have a significant role also….these are front line staff with eyes and ears close to the ground.

Security leaders responsible for protecting critical infrastructure to mass assembly facilities, security staff need to be open in their view of Suspicious incidents, and be vigilant;

Eliciting Information

Front line security recognizing person(s) seeking information about your facility security, specific company details or personal information about your facility / employees; this includes individuals probing employees in person on- or off-site, over the phone, or via the Internet, including social media about particular structures, building systems, and personnel procedures at the facility or its IT systems.

An example of this would be your shopping Centre Security Dispatch Office receives a telephone call, from an apparent student, and that he/she is doing a school project on Shopping Centre Security and requests information on how many security guards work at the Centre, with further questions posed about your security.  The conversation may be informal and appear innocent, and the call continues to discuss how many are on duty at any given time.  Trained and aware security staff would recognize this as suspicious and take actions to report it.


Taking still or moving (video) pictures of a facility / infrastructure / personnel or surrounding environment.  An example of this would be an unknown individual appears to be taking pictures of the beautiful décor and architecture found within your shopping centre.  Only after monitoring and paying closer attention –  person is photographing entrances, supporting columns, pillars, and security guard patrol routes.

 Observation / Surveillance

Showing unusual interest in a facility / infrastructure / personnel; for example, observing it through binoculars, taking notes, drawing maps, or drawing structures of a facility. Included monitoring the activity of people, facilities, processes or systems, and employee private residences.

While on routine patrol, at 8:45 PM  to 9:15 PM: for the last three days, on-site Security Guard has noticed that the same individual has been window shopping in the same area  – of a jewelry store.  Upon closer investigation, individual is monitoring the closing procedures of the jewelry store and noting security presence or lack thereof.


Unauthorized individual attempting to enter a restricted area or system or protected site; includes through impersonation of authorized personnel (ex: police/ security, janitor)

10:23 PM While on routine rear corridor patrol, TEC Security notes an individual who is well dressed, appears lost and states that they are looking for a public washroom.  Although probably innocent, remember, the TEC rear corridor system provides access to natural gas valves, electrical and mechanical rooms etc.

 Attempted Intrusion

Unauthorized individual attempting to enter a restricted area or system or protected site; includes through impersonation of authorized personnel (ex: police/ security, janitor)

Person dressed in construction clothes is observed walking on the retail centre roof by patrolling Security.  Although the person “looks” the part, Proactive Security Guard approaches and determines inaccuracies with the story of why the male is on the roof

Theft / Loss / Diversions / Questionable Possession

Stealing or diverting something associated with a your facility, or possessing actual or fraudulent facility-specific articles (ex: uniforms, keys, access badges, identification, vehicles, technology, documents which are proprietary to the facility.

Operations Manager advises that one of his / her employees is missing three of his uniforms from his locker.  Manager further advises that he believes that his locker was left open during the evening.


Presenting false or misusing insignia, documents, and/or identification, to misrepresent one’s affiliation to cover possible illicit activity.

An individual enters the building control centre and presents a business card stating they are from Ontario Hydro (Hydro Inspector) requesting access to the Main Electrical Room.  The male is wearing an Orange Visibility vest and hard hat.

Testing of Security

Interactions with, or challenges to installations, personnel, or systems that reveal physical, personnel or cyber security capabilities.

Retail Patron reports to Security Supervisor that their bag was stolen from an area within the retail centre.  The patron requests to have someone review the Security Camera System for coverage of the area.  Patron is distraught regarding the missing items but seems more interested in the camera coverage than the missing items.

Testing of Emergency Services / Response

Apparent testing or observation of emergency services / response.

Security finds a suspicious package that is “overly” suspicious (almost with purpose) so it will be investigated.  The response and evacuation process is then monitored to identify response capabilities, Emergency Equipment locations and possibly Emergency Services response locations and occupant evacuation assembly areas.

 Express or Implied Threat

Making or communication a spoken or written threat to damage or compromise a facility / infrastructure (including employees/public)

A recently terminated employee – in apparent gest – makes a threat that they should “blow-up” the building.

 Sabotage / Tampering / Vandalism

Damaging, manipulating, or defacing part of a facility/ infrastructure or protected site with malicious intent.

Minor damage reports may be a significant sign of a larger picture.  Example – Damage to perimeter lighting may occur to reduce visibility of CCTV coverage due to reduced light.  Damage of unknown origin may also be reviewed as suspicious.

Suspicious Substance

Discovery of an actual or possible unknown substance (such as a powder, liquid, solid, or gas) at or near a facility

While on routine patrol, Security Guard notices a box with obvious oil stains with numerous words on the box that are not common to the environment and contains an unknown liquid in a plastic bag.

 Suspicious Item / Package

Discovery of a suspicious unattended item/package at or near a facility

The discovery of a suspicious item / package is often disregarded as simply that – suspicious with no threat.  A dirty gym bag is noticed along the exterior perimeter of the shopping centre.  The bag is old and dirty contains a length of dirty rope and two used gloves.

5 Points your Facility “Fire Safety Plan” Provides Return on Investment for both landlord and workplaces in Ontario

The National Fire Code of Canada requires the implementation of a fire safety plan for most buildings and occupancies, and this is also supported by individual Provincial legislation.   Sadly, these required building plans have a high frequency in being found nonexistent, outdated and / or not implemented.

Let’s put aside the fact that it is a legislated requirement and take a look at the significant benefits of maintaining a professional – up to date – Building Fire Safety Plan;

Building Owner Benefits

Building Fire Safety Plans are required by law, and must be reviewed and updated at least – annually.  Once properly developed and implemented, they provide valuable building fire safety information for occupants, property managers, and owners.

A properly completed Fire Safety Plan also provides detailed instructions on the many requirements of the fire code, which owners need to comply with – in respect to daily, weekly, monthly and annual test and inspections of building life safety systems and equipment.  This allows building owners to ensure they are compliant, ensure system readiness, and take measures to effectively protect employees, building occupants and corporate reputation – A critical component in property owner due diligence.

Another direct benefit to building owners is the opportunity to display a strong building fire safety program to prospective new clients – significantly aiding in attracting new clients.  Don’t get me wrong – It is truly unfortunate that some buildings and owners are not as focused with public safety, and legal compliance, yet if your organization is proactive and sets the bar in meeting code compliance and maintains a proactive fire safety program…This is a positive that can impact your bottom line and it should be communicated to potential clients.

Corporations looking for leased space are now more than ever, being proactive in their due diligence –Considering status of building life safety systems, safety procedures, and emergency management programs in their decisions where to lease property and space for their employees.  This is an important aspect of a tenants due diligence.

Property Management Benefits

Under the Fire Code, building managers, residential superintendants, and property supervisory personnel are required to be familiar with the buildings life safety systems they are responsible for.  A properly developed fire safety plan provides a clear overview of building safety systems, procedures for supervisory personnel, and reference material for use in the event of a building emergency.

Further, this plan provides detailed information on conducting fire drills, testing and inspection requirements, occupant training, and what to do in the event of a life safety system failure.  These are critical components to successfully managing a property, and protecting the public and your family of tenants.

Benefits to Building Occupants / Tenants

Fire Safety Plans provide tenants and building occupant’s detailed instructions on fire and emergency procedures, including actions to take in the event of a fire, evacuation and shelter in place requirements.

A properly completed Fire Safety Plan also provides tactical information to assist fire services in rescue operations, property conservation efforts and hazardous materials.  If this is information is known by all building supervisory staff – it can limit costly operational disruptions, and allow a return to business faster – This saves time…and in return – money.

Truly unique to NLS Group Building Safety Plans, they also provide a tactical tool that may be utilized by specialty response teams such as the municipal police services; Emergency Task Force.  Certain building information and detailed floor plans may be used to provide rapid support to first responders in the event of active violent incidents, suspicious packages and criminal acts in both workplace facilities and residential buildings.  This type of proactive planning significantly enhances the safety of building occupants.

If your plan is outdated, and the information is incorrect and not easily attainable, it may hinder emergency operations. This hindrance may negatively impact public safety, and expose your organization to significant risk and liabilities.

Persons Requiring Assistance (PRA’s) Within Building Emergencies

Persons requiring assistance during a building evacuation may be described as anyone who has reduced mobility, a speech, hearing or visual impair­ment, or a cognitive limitation—regardless of whether or not these conditions are temporary or permanent.

A building fire safety plan shall contain a list of persons requiring assistance within a building and their procedures in the event of a building emergency. In the event of an evacuation or related emergency, this plan is made available to the responding Fire Services.

This section within the fire safety plan also supports your organizations compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Requirements, and the Ontario Accessibility Act for Customer Service coming into effect January 01, 2012.

Benefits to First Responders & Municipal Emergency Services

Building fire safety plans must be approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction, in most cases this would be your local fire services.  Approved fire safety plans provide tactical reference tools to effectively and timely respond to building related emergencies.

Clear and concise informational tools such as floor drawings, sprinkler, HVAC, gas and electrical isolation points can decrease response times and contribute to firefighter emergency scene safety.

Further, a properly completed Fire Safety Plan can permit local fire departments to conduct virtual building tours and familiarization of your building – without impact to your operations.  This permits the proactive review of high hazard areas and locations with significant challenges like shopping centres, public buildings with high occupancy, schools and industrial establishments with higher than average operational risks.

Jason D. Reid

National Life Safety Group

National Life Safety Group was established with the direct purpose of enhancing public safety through innovative solutions to your truly unique corporate and facility risks.

We achieve this by utilizing tested and proven leadership and experience from both the private, and public sector, utilizing the internationally accepted principles of emergency management in everyday business, facility and safety operations.