When Emergency Strikes: A Strata Plan Case Study

After-hours assistance: A massive responsibility for Strata Plan

One of Strata Plan’s biggest responsibilities as an Owners Corporation manager is being robust and capable enough to provide assistance in the event of emergencies.

Strata Plan boasts its own in-house emergency after-hours phone available to all customers and residents at buildings we help to manage.

Hosting this service in-house as opposed to outsourcing the service ensures Strata Plan is in full control of its emergency response, helping to ensure the right services are sent to any emergency that may occur.

The benefits of such a system were on full display in late January, 2018, when a hot water pipe burst at a Strata Plan-managed Owners Corporation in Brunswick.

The burst caused an incredible amount of water damage to levels three, two and one of the five-storey building, with flooding also occurring in the basement.

The event was an unexpected one for all, but thanks to the quick thinking of the building’s residents and Strata Plan, the damage was limited and contained.

In the below video and accompanying article, Strata Plan breaks down the event and how multiple stakeholders managed to combine and provide a quick and efficient response.

WHAT HAPPENED?

In the early hours of a midweek morning in Brunswick, a hot water pipe burst on the third level at the five-storey Brunswick building.

The gushing hot water that followed flooded the level three common areas and several apartments throughout the building, soaking the carpet and seeping to the levels below.

Even in the basement, flooding could be observed as the water spilled throughout the building.

A quick-thinking resident called emergency services, prompting the attendance of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Victoria Police, who immediately took control of the situation.

At 2.30 am, a resident called Strata Plan’s after-hours service at the request of the MFB.

Strata Plan Facilities Maintenance member Didier Bedini was managing the phone and said MFB told him that emergency plumbers and electricians were needed on site as soon as possible.

“Luckily some of the contractors we work with are really responsive, even after-hours,” Didier said.

“We called some of the most reliable plumbers and electricians we know and by 3am we had contractors on-site to assist emergency services with their efforts.”

The contractors got straight to work on investigating the cause of the flooding and sweeping the basement to prevent the flood waters from reaching the pits of the car stacker.

Their quick-thinking and actions saved the Owners Corporation a significant amount of money by reducing the impact of the already sizeable damage.

While the contractors worked to make the building as safe as possible, the Victoria Police worked to evacuate residents from affected apartments and also called Strata Plan’s office to arrange for a representative of their own to attend the site.

Didier heeded the call, with the assistance of colleague and Strata Manager Ashan Fernando, driving from his home in Ringwood to Strata Plan’s offices in South Melbourne to pick up all required access devices and keys and then to Brunswick to attend the affected building.

Strata Plan was on-site within an hour of the call from Victoria Police, arriving around 5 am.

By 9.10 am, an insurance claim had been lodged.

WHAT WAS STRATA PLAN’S RESPONSE?

 

When the initial call was made to Strata Plan at 2.30 am, it was made clear that immediate action was required.

Strata Plan wasted little time in consulting its extensive database of after-hours contractors and arranging for emergency electricians and plumbers to be onsite within an hour of the original call.

While the contractors got to work on cleaning up the property, investigating the source and cause of the damage and making the building safe, Strata Plan continued to liaise with emergency services over the phone.

By 3.30 am, it was made clear that the police needed on-site assistance from Strata Plan representatives so that emergency services could begin their handover and leave the site.

Didier and Ashan were on-site by 5am, by which time the police had already left comfortable with the response of Strata Plan, contractors and that all affected residents had been safely evacuated.

Once on-site, Didier and Ashan were able to continue to assist contractors, take a range of photos for the purpose of insurance claims and assist any residents and/or owners around the building with their enquiries.

From the site, the Strata Plan duo were able to send a wealth of information back to the Strata Plan office in South Melbourne, where the insurance team was able to collate all the information on file and lodge a claim with the Owners Corporation’s insurer by 9.10 am.

Since the event, Strata Plan’s insurance team and the building’s Strata Manager, Melissa Bonaddio have posted daily updates on the building’s Owners Corporation portal, to ensure owners and residents are kept up to date with all the latest and most relevant information.

All updates have also been emailed to all owners, managing agents and tenants whose details are on file, to ensure that those who aren’t active on the portal are still kept informed.

WHAT WAS THE DAMAGE?

“There was a lot of water damage,” Didier recalled.

“Level three was almost unbearable because of the heat and the humidity caused by the explosion.

“There was a lot of carpet damage and the water had flowed down to levels two and one, which weren’t as affected.

“When I arrived there was a lot of water in the basement car park as well, which the contractors had been working on cleaning, basically to stop it from getting to the car stacker pit, which to their credit they did.”

With the building in question less than 12-months-old, it was equally imperative that while the contractors got to work on making the building safe, every element was documented for the ensuing insurance claim.

The building’s insurer was notified of the damage by Strata Plan by 9.10 am, with a complete rundown of what happened overnight and all known damage at that point, as well as who was on-site, what works were performed, why those works were performed and what was found as a result of those works.

An assessor was also urgently requested at this time.

“We made it clear from the start to the contractors who attended the site that we would need reports of what they did, why they did what they did and how they found the issue,” Didier said.

“We need the report to identify what caused the issue, what parts need to be replaced and to ensure nothing like this happens again and of course all of this is vital information that the insurer will need over the course of a claim.”

HOW IS THE INSURANCE CLAIM HANDLED

As soon as Strata Plan received the after-hours call, a case was logged on the internal system.

This case would go onto house all incoming reports, photos and information from the site with respect to the event and ensuing damages, for the purposes of lodging a claim with the building’s insurer.

Strata Plan’s Insurance Team Leader, Kelsey Mitchell, said she was aware of the event before she even got to work on the morning of the event and was able to action the claim as soon as she got in thanks to the reports and photos which had already been sent in.

The insurer organised an assessor to attend site in the following days, with further inspections set for the coming weeks.

To ensure all affected residents and lot owners were able to include any damage to their private apartments in the claim, Kelsey spent the day calling every owner on file on levels two, three and four to check if they had observed any damage within their private property and help them to lodge claims in conjunction with the Owners Corporation.

Moving forward, Kelsey and her team will continue to liaise with insurers, contractors, assessors and residents to provide updates on the progress of the claim.

While Strata Plan and the Owners Corporation continue to deal with the fall-out of the event, the initial response of residents, emergency services, Strata Plan and contractors has gone a long way to limiting the amount of damage and putting the Owners Corporation in the best possible position to work towards a satisfactory outcome.

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