“Is the fire under control and is it going to spread to another part of the building?” These are two of the most important questions we ask the firies when we arrive at the scene of a fire in any of the buildings we manage. And while a recent Sydney apartment building fire required us to unfortunately ask these questions, we were pleased to learn our fire safety system performed as it was supposed to – limiting the fire’s spread and potentially saving lives.
Fire safety is a key challenge for the building and strata management sectors – and the recent fire at The Peninsula apartment building in Sydney’s Matraville, highlighted the vital role building managers have in enhancing safety, reducing fire damage and expediting a building’s repair and remediation.
This particular fire started in the bedroom of a third-floor apartment, before spreading to the living and dining area and ultimately destroying the whole unit. However, it didn’t spread to any adjoining apartments and, most importantly, the tenants weren’t injured and other residents were safely evacuated.
A successful fire drill
When the fire broke out, the building’s fire system kicked into action, sounding the evacuation alarm and automatically calling emergency services and BMAUS’s head office. “The fire system performed exactly as it should have on the night,” says The Peninsula’s Building Manager Tony Townsend. “Making sure everyone was safe was my first priority and within 15 minutes of receiving a call from BMAUS General Manager, Ben Mees, I was on-site being briefed by the police and fire crews.”
The Fire & Rescue NSW crew contained the fire within half an hour and were able to hand over a safe building within a few hours. “The gyprock walls helped slow the fire, giving the firies time to extinguish it,” says Tony. “Most of the damage was caused by the soot and the water from the firies’ hoses. I advised some residents, whose apartments are on the same level as the fire, to stay elsewhere that night, because of the lingering smoke, soot and water.”
After the fire crews had announced the building safe, Tony, who is a licensed electrician, inspected it, ensuring the power was safe and working and the water was turned off at the mains. He also had the windows in the affected apartment boarded up to prevent further weather damage.
Follow-up action and remediation
The next day, Tony removed the hazardous debris, including shattered glass and metal from the apartment’s windows and shutters from the courtyard below. He also repaired the diesel generator, which had powered the water pumps for the fire crews, and organised drying machines for the water-affected areas, which included the hallway, basement carpark and several other apartments. The fire crew used about 20,000 litres of water to extinguish the fire, so the water damage was extensive.
“We’re proud of Tony, as it’s his efforts that helped ensure the fire safety system performed as it should,” says Ben. “On the night of the fire, he went the extra mile, giving the fire crews essential information to help them get the fire under control while also checking on residents.”
Tony also organised for the repairs and remediation to take place, liaising with the strata managers and the building management committee. “I had an assessor, restorer and cleaners in. It was busy!” he says.
The post-fire to-do list included:
– documenting damage to the building’s common areas, systems and facilities and exterior walls
– sourcing quotes from trades and suppliers for repairs and replacements for the insurance claim
– organising cleaners to clean the soot from the interiors
– organising and managing all the trades and contractors and checking their work was completed to a high quality
Expediting insurance claims
Immediately following a fire, BMAUS’ building managers will check the building to identify damage to its systems and common areas and hazards to ensure resident safety and comfort. Our managers are also experts at preparing and lodging insurance claims, liaising with strata managers and owners’ committees.
“It’s important to get insurance claims in quickly so repair work can start without delay to reduce further damage and inconvenience to residents,” explains Tony, who is assisting some of the owners of The Peninsula apartments that were damaged by soot and water, with their insurance claims.
Tony is also keeping The Peninsula’s residents and strata managers up to date with the repair process: “I explained the priorities and steps needed to return the building to its former condition, and everyone has been very cooperative and patient,” he says. “But what this experience also shows is how important it is for building managers to have effective fire safety systems, as these can save lives and dramatically minimise damage.”
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Building Managers provide a variety of services that help create a more convenient, efficient and cost-effective building. Strata buildings that have numerous lots – residential, commercial, retail – have an increased amount of traffic and activities which require a professional building manager to oversee and mitigate.
Building Managers organise, control and delegate the strategic and operational management of a building. They are based on-site with a dedicated office from where they manage contractors and suppliers carrying out maintenance and upgrades and provide services such as security, cleaning, and property maintenance. Building Managers can issue keys, accept parcels and manage the adherence of the occupants to the registered by-laws.
Bmaus can assist the owners’ corporation with:
– The management of common property
– Controlling the use of common property by tradespersons and other non-residents
– The maintenance and repair of common property
– Duties such as concierge, security and cleaning
Building Managers usually manage strata buildings greater than 70 lots, however, they can manage smaller strata on a part-time basis at the Strata Committee’s discretion.
Building Managers are appointed by members of a Strata Committee. They are appointed at an AGM or EGM and are administered by the Strata Committee via a Strata Agent.
The Strata Committee of the owners corporation represents owners or owners’ nominees. It is responsible for the day-to-day running of the strata scheme and is elected at each annual general meeting (AGM). The owners corporation decides the number of strata committee members for the coming year at each AGM. An owners corporation may also employ a Strata Managing Agent and/or Building Manager to carry out some, or all, of the responsibilities of the strata committee.
We create a tailored quote by discussing your tenant’s requirements and by conducting an on-site scope of work to assess your building’s maintenance and management requirements such as security, cleaning, coordinating/overseeing repairs and renovations, provision of valet parking, concierge, and/or mail/parcel management, and facilities maintenance such as gardening and maintenance of amenities such as gyms and/or swimming pools.
Bmaus has managers who operate as full-time managers, part-time managers and, in some instances, a combination of remote and onsite managers. As with all our services, we tailor the manager’s hours to meet the needs of your building.
Bmaus employs several ‘floating’ / ‘relief’ Building Managers who are acquainted with your building and its operation and maintenance requirements. This ensures a continuity of quality service during times of leave.
Taking Building Management to a new level
Professionalism is key
Bmaus is an integrated building and facilities management company that has evolved to meet the needs of today’s strata buildings.
Most importantly, we understand we are a services company entrusted with the care and comfort of your homes.
With this in mind, we offer highly professional Building Managers with the necessary skills and aptitudes to meet the needs of your strata, from the simplest to the most complex.
Bmaus is the solution you’ve been looking for.
Our team members have strong expertise and experience in the following:
• Compilation of building defects
• Control of key and access systems
• Management and audit of security operations
• Supervision of communications systems
• Operation of concierge and reception service
• Reporting and advising the owners corporation of all building issues
• Supervision of contractors
• Control of furniture and goods entry and exit
• Enforcement of by-laws and rules relating to the property
• Attending owners corporation and other relevant meetings
To find out more about our services and how we can improve your building’s management, please contact us on 02 8356 7127 or email info@Bmaus.com.au
We look forward to being an integral part of your building’s success!