Co-ordinating emergency responses with Strata Plan’s after-hours emergency response

Strata Plan’s After Hours Service Assists Owners Corporation With Emergency Management

When emergency strikes it is always good to know someone is there for you.

Strata Plan’s emergency after-hours number means that every one of our customers, their tenants and managing agents have access to assistance in the event of an emergency, no matter the time.

January proved a busy month for Strata Plan’s after-hours team.

Strata Plan was required to respond to a burst pipe at a property in Brunswick in mid-January, before another property in Footscray was subject to flooding late at night a week later.

The 25-lot mixed-use property is currently undergoing rooftop construction and with the lift shaft open, a deluge of rain caused water to flow into the property, flooding the fourth level of the four-storey building.

Strata manager Shenae Rigg was looking after the Strata Plan after-hours phone when an owner made the call at 10 PM, accompanied by a video of the water flooding into the common areas.

As soon as Shenae heard about what was happening, she knew she had to act quickly.

WHAT HAPPENED?

It was around 9 PM when water begun flooding the common areas of the Footscray building.

With the water flooding down through the lift well and out into the common areas as well as into some of the apartments, owners and tenants alike became increasingly aware of the unfolding situation.

Shenae, who as well as being one of Strata Plan’s Strata Managers forms a crucial part of the after-hours team, said most of the calls she handles outside of work hours are related to electrical and plumbing faults.

“The after-hours service is there to offer our residents and owner’s assistance no matter the time of day to ensure that if there is an emergency there is help on hand,” Shenae said.

“Most of the time we get calls for plumbing and electrical matters, but this one was obviously a bit different.”

With the building in question currently undergoing construction as new townhouses are built on the upper-levels, Shenae’s understanding of the building and current issues meant she was quickly able to establish a potential cause and contact the right people.

“The builders had recently extended the lift shaft, so we believed that there was an opening on the fifth level where the water was coming through and causing the flooding,” she said.

The nature of the issue meant swift action and documentation was crucial to making the building safe, limiting damage and ensuring everything was in order for the insurance claim to come.

“An owner actually sent me a video of what was happening and water was just gushing out of the lift shaft,” Shenae said.

“The owner said all the residents were on the fourth level with their mops and buckets and trying to clean up, so my initial thought was to just get out there.”

WHAT WAS STRATA PLAN’S RESPONSE

Aside from getting out on site as quickly as possible, Strata Plan had to contact all relevant stakeholders and trades to get on site to assist with the cleanup and required works.

“We called the builders in the first instance, because we suspected the issue came from this fifth-level works,” Shenae explained.

“We also called plumbers and the building caretaker, who bought wet vacs (a machine used to suck up water) to make the building safe.”

While Strata Plan do not usually physically attend the majority of after-hours call-outs, Shenae said she felt it was important to offer whatever assistance necessary to help with the owners and tenants already working on the clean-up.

“Because the entire building was affected and all the tenants were outside their apartments and working, I just thought it was important to make an appearance and support them,” she said.

“It’s an inconvenience to a lot of people. Especially at 10 pm at night and you’re dealing with tenants and owners who have invested a lot of money into these properties.”

Shenae was on-site from 9.30pm to 11.30pm helping tenants and owners clean up.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE?

As soon as Shenae got back into work the next day, she placed the Owners Corporation’s insurer on notice, providing details of the event the night before.

“We put the OC’s insurer on notice as a matter of principle but obviously given the cause of the event the claim is going through the builder’s insurer,” Shenae said.

“We also sent a notice to all the owners advising them of the information they need or that is required if they were directly affected by the flooding and the building insurer will take care of the rest.”

While the event was an unfortunate one, Shenae said it was pleasing to see so many different stakeholders come together in a crisis to limit damage and drive optimum outcomes from a bad situation.

“I think the amazing aspect of it was seeing all the tenants and owners helping each other, which is great to see as an Owners Corporation manager.”

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