Building Coordinators Assist Employees, Officials in Case of Emergency

Posted: January 20, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Erick Soricelli

The building coordinator program is designed to better prepare George Mason University employees in the event of an emergency. Since the program began last summer, at least two employees have been appointed to each building as specific points of contact for university employees and safety officials.

“The coordinators are our eyes and ears within each building,” says Keith Bushey, assistant vice president and chief safety officer. “We wanted university employees to take responsibility for safety concerns, and not assume that in case of emergency, someone else would take care of it.”

Bushey asked various senior employees in each building to appoint a coordinator. The employees chosen as coordinators were from the department that occupies substantial space in each building. He also notes that some of the current coordinators volunteered to take on the position.

Jeanmerie Townley, administrative assistant for University Relations (UR), serves as Mason Hall’s building coordinator, as the UR office occupies a large amount of space in that building.

Townley’s responsibilities as building coordinator primarily involve being an active liaison between building occupants in case of emergency, as well as among the Physical Plant, Safety Office, and the University Police Department to maintain numerous building safety and fire code standards. Specific duties include recognizing a potential emergency situation, issuing an evacuation order if necessary, and conducting a monthly safety survey and building walkthrough with floor fire wardens. Townley works with the fire wardens as well as an alternate building coordinator to carry out her duties. “We make a conscious effort on a daily basis to detect any potential safety hazard in the building,” she says.

A building coordinator’s safety survey and building walkthrough consists of a series of inspection measures. These include making sure fire extinguishers are fully charged, testing exit doors, and examining stairways, exit lights, and ventilation. For example, Townley points out, a ceiling tile that is cracked or damaged in any way can be extremely dangerous in the event of a fire.

Bushey recommends that building coordinators serve at least one year in their position, but there is no term limit. Larger buildings, such as the libraries, the Aquatic and Fitness Center, and the Freedom Center, require more than two building coordinators because of their size, hours of operation, and purposes beyond the university community.

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