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Fundamentals of Emergency Preparedness in the CBD

Keeping buildings and tenants safe is a top priority – and it begins with proper preparation. A key part of any preparedness plan is fully understanding the resources available in the event of an emergency. To ensure these resources are front and center, we decided to get back to the basics last week and invited some of Chicago’s first responder agencies to attend our Preparedness Committee’s Open Meeting and discuss the fundamentals of emergency preparedness in the Central Business District. Our guests included:

  • Earl Mashaw – Office of Emergency Management and Communication
  • Commander Wally Schroeder – Chicago Fire Department
  • District Chief Brian Helmold – Chicago Fire Department
  • Sergeant Amanda Vanek – Chicago Police Department
  • Sergeant Joel Holler – Chicago Police Department
  • Officer Kevin Hacker – Chicago Police Department
  • Detective Baz Khoushaba – Chicago Police Department

The key takeaway for our building members from this meeting centered on the importance of cultivating relationships with first responders in the CBD that keep us safe and increasing awareness of the resources available through these agencies. Below is a high-level overview of the key points shared by our partner agencies.

Earl Mashaw – Office of Emergency Management and Communication (OEMC)

Above all else, the primary intent and goal of the OEMC is to keep Chicago safe through the coordination of various business units’ operations. This can be done through 911 operations, 311 city services, traffic management authorities and public safety information technology, including security cameras throughout the City. The OEMC accomplishes this through various information centers, including:

  • Coordination Centers – houses city-wide information to ensure all OEM information centers operate to the best of their abilities and with the most accurate, up-to-date information
  • Operations Centers – conducts public safety monitoring and coordination
  • City Incident Centers – conducts public works monitoring and coordination
  • Emergency Operations Centers – conducts information and resource coordination during large-scale events
  • Joint Information Centers – coordinates emergency public information to ensure clear and consistent communications during an incident
  • Chicago Public Schools Security Center – NEW – collects and aggregates data from CPS

Wally Schroeder, Chicago Fire Department – Fire Safety Director Program

In partnership with BOMA/Chicago, the Chicago Fire Department’s Fire Safety Director program has become an accelerated, comprehensive educational course addressing the key aspects of fire safety, including city codes, fire behavior, building components and overall fire emergency preparedness. Upon completing the program, each building’s fire safety director is certified for a two year period before being required to obtain recertification. But take note building members – your certification is only good for the building at which you worked during the time of completion. For more information or to register with the Fire Safety Director Program, visit:

Brian Helmold, Chicago Fire Department – High Rise Incident Command Procedures

A fire within any BOMA/Chicago building will be a complex situation involving the action of numerous individuals and groups to ensure the safety of everyone within the building. Most importantly, timing is everything. Upon arrival, first responders will rely on building management to relay critical information to help accelerate the process, including:

  • Location of the fire (floor/tenant)
  • Elevator that services all floor (preferably a freight elevator)
  • Evacuation announcements previously provided
  • Location of stairwells
  • Evacuation plans/floor plans
  • Special needs occupants
  • Details of building’s HVAC systems, fire pump location, alarm panel information, electric closets and sprinkler system shutdown

Sergeants Amanda Vanek & Joel Holler, Chicago Police Department – Business Liaisons

Just as every BOMA/Chicago building is different, so too are the concerns of each of our members. One of the primary purposes of the Chicago Police Department’s business liaisons is to build relationships with the constituents of the Central Business District – they do so by regularly attending BOMA/Chicago meetings and events – and address those individual concerns.  The Chicago Police Department strongly encourages our members to reach out with any issues (nothing is too big or too small), but some common concerns the liaisons address include:

  • Large-scale, private events at buildings
  • Special guest appearances (i.e., dignitaries)
  • Obtaining liquor licenses for events
  • Active shooter planning and preparation
  • Up-to-date information surrounding protests/demonstrations
  • Homelessness (in partnership with City Services and Department of Human Services)
  • Robberies/Crimes of opportunity in the Central Business District

Generally speaking, businesses located north of the river are in the 18th district and can contact the Business Liaison officers at 312-742-5880.  Businesses south of the river are in the 1st district and can call (312) 745-4295.

Officer Kevin Hacker, Chicago Police Department – CP3 and FIMS

The Chicago Public/Private Partnership (CP3) aims to leverage enhanced information sharing and more timely communication to create a safe and more secure Chicago. The focus is to:

  • Create a secure, single site for collecting facility data
  • Create a means to expand and facilitate information sharing between private and public sectors
  • Create a collaborative environment
  • Create the ability to develop a consistent first responder data report

In order for this process to be as effective as possible, both building management and tenants need to provide data and information pertaining to contact information, floor plans, hazardous materials on site, CCTV details and tenant information, among others. The goal is to then share this information with the public sector, where it can be accessed through first responder networks to support efforts in the event of an emergency. Learn more or sign up at

Detective Baz Khoushaba, Chicago Police Department – Suspicious Activity Reporting

“If you see something, say something” is truly the mantra when it comes to reporting suspicious activity. The Chicago Police Department relies on the eyes and ears of everyday citizens to identify suspicious behavior, and this is something each and every one of our building members can stress to the tenants in their properties. By leveraging various law protection agencies such as the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, the Chicago Police Department incorporates the information shared by the public to aid new or ongoing investigations involving everything from minor incidents to potential acts of terrorism. At the end of the day, it’s everyone’s job to report suspicious behavior and work as a collective unit to ensure everyone stays safe.  Suspicious activity or behavior can be reported to the “See Something Say Something” hotline at 855-RPRT-2-S$ (855-777-8274).  However, if you are witnessing suspicious activity as it is occurring, Detective Khoushaba advised people not to be hesitant to contact 911 so that there is the possibility of immediate investigation into the event.

For more information on emergency preparedness, or if you’d like to connect with any of our first responder partners, please contact Ron Tabaczynski, BOMA/Chicago’s Director of Government Affairs, at