Take an inventory of your life safety responsibilities – what do they include?
If you're like most FMs, you thought of fire protection: sprinklers, extinguishers, and alarms. Few will consider that life safety is far more extensive and complex than preventing fires. Take a look at this morning's headlines and it's clear that buildings play an active role – for better or worse – in crisis situations.
Occupants are relying on you to shield them from a growing list of possible threats: domestic assault, terrorism, civil disturbances, shootings, workplace injuries, suspicious packages, medical emergencies, and carbon monoxide. Less deadly but still prevalent hazards such as inclement weather, power outages, and water leaks also fall under the jurisdiction of FMs.
As buildings have become more complex, it's become apparent that FM is the one department centrally positioned to have its finger on the pulse of life safety. But most organizations don't see the connection yet and struggle to stay on top of routine fire protection, much less comprehensive life safety. When was the last time you ran a fire drill? Established a relationship with the fire department? Tested whether you could shut down your ventilation system in the case of a chemical spill?
No longer can fire protection and life safety be viewed as separate endeavors – it's time to take building safety to the next level.