Downtown Toronto Condo Fire Emergency April 2020

Downtown Toronto Condo Fire Emergency April 2020

A High Risk Night – Literally a “Trial by Fire”


It was late at night when the fire alarm began loudly sounding from the speakers everywhere in the building.  Ready for such emergencies, the Condor concierge who was at the front desk at the time immediately began the fire alarm procedure.

Just a few hours prior, the police were contacted for a disturbance and had arrived to speak with the persons inside a unit.  Was there a connection?  Could there be a more severe risk? 

“It would be a true test of everything put in place up until that point.”

The building itself is no stranger to fire alarms, as it is connected to a hotel. False fire alarms and nuisance fire alarms unfortunately are a regular occurrence. And this is the real danger at hand. When residents are so used to false alarms there is a very significant risk that when a real fire occurs there will be complacency and the alarm would be ignored. The destructive nature of a fire is not one that can be taken lightly.

So, on this night, when the alarm activated, it would be a true test of everything that had been put into place up until that point:

  • a test of the level of training provided to the Concierge on how to handle fire alarm emergencies;
  • a test of the culture and responsiveness of the residential community;
  • a test of the proper function of the building emergency systems maintained by the coordinated work all contractors responsible for regular maintenance and testing
  • and of course a test of the Property management itself in their overseeing the building

Attending fire fighters were unfortunately welcomed by a real fire taking place.



The Story as Told by Vipasha, the Condor Security Guard on duty during the Fire


What follows is a personal account of the incident directly from the Condor Concierge team member on duty, Vipasha:

“The incident that occured on 17th April, 2020, consisted of four major events: a domestic dispute, a fire, a flood, and a death of one of the residents in a unit affected by the fire.

All events overlapped, and time was one constraint that was not working in our favour that day. All of that was as traumatising for everybody as it was for me, watching somebody die in front of your eyes, makes you numb for a while.  As I have never experienced such in my life, I was not sure what should I be doing.

Then I thought, I am the person who is here to provide security to all the residents of the building and if I show signs of panic and nervousness then all the residents interacting with me are going to panic and lose courage, therefore I did what as a Security Guard one must do – show courage, be calm, think on the feet, and come up with solutions as things occur.  Eventually, that helped me handle this situation.

While I was getting trained to be a security guard, I learnt techniques to handle situations, how to talk, how to do fire procedures, and how to stay calm all the time, but along with every technical aspect of the training, I learnt one more thing – how  not to lose your courage in difficult times.

One Condor repeatedly saying in training is, “your safety is most important.”  As I went through more modules of security I observed that all the training modules were based on the fact that we have to be safe first and then manage incidents keeping that in mind.


Show courage, be calm, think on the feet, and come up with solutions as things occur


So during my experience, when I went to the 12th floor where this incident happened, I was maintaining a safe distance from the victim and tried asking him questions which can help me decide what my next step could be. I was well aware of the attacker, his aggression and potential to attack people, so I decided to separate the victim from the attacker.  As the attacker went into the unit and locked himself in, I quickly brought the victim to the lobby, so that I can buy some time to take necessary steps like calling the police and informing the building superintendent.

Being a security guard, our first and foremost duty is to secure property and people in the building we are working in, therefore I kept residents protected by advising them not to interact with the attacker and to remain calm and safe inside their units.

I told them to contact me if they need any assistance and be safe when police arrive.

Police in Area for Assault when Fire Started

We simultaneously made several announcements about the fire to evacuate residents from the building. We informed some of them by phone as well, and I was in touch with all the residents who were calling me to make sure they evacuated the building and were safe. I was on the phone constantly so if any resident called me I would be able to provide them with assistance.

When the fire services arrived I gave them the list of all residents with medical conditions so that they would be able to prioritize those evacuations, since they might not be able to evacuate by themselves.

All I thought was if, “I were living in this building what would I expect my security guard to do?” and then I did the same.”


Words of Wisdom for Security Guards


Condor asked Vipasha to share the lessons she took from this incident, and to give advice to other Condor Team members on how to deal with similar incidents in the future:

Eric Senior, Condor Operations and Training Manager

My mentor Eric Senior (Condor’s Operations and Training Manager) taught me how to be present in the situation and how to strategically prioritise situations as you deal with them. And that’s what I did on Friday; I differentiated the incidents and applied what I was trained for. I followed the procedure for domestic dispute, then flooding and the fire procedure all at once.

Also, my Site Supervisor Hosni has been a great teacher to me, he has always taught me after the mistakes I have made, always encouraged me to work effectively and efficiently. I would say these were the main reasons that made me deal with all the incidents that happened on site that day.

I have learnt throughout my life that we should learn from our mistakes. However, according to me, learning from mistakes is just one part of it, applying what you have learnt at the right time at right situations is what makes the difference and helps you grow through life.

“Applying what you have learned at the right time at right situations is what makes the difference and helps you grow through life.”

My suggestions to fellow Condor Team members are:

Always know what you are doing, if you are not sure, ask for help.

Understand the nature of job and your responsibilities and duties as a security guard.

Do not depend on others when it comes to thinking on the feet and immediate decision making, because one late decision can cause a great loss in some situations.

Always be observant and aware of your surroundings and people around you, you will get to learn a lot for sure.

Have courage in and believe in yourself, what you can do perfectly, nobody else can deliver the same quality, so have faith in yourself first and then others.

Also I would suggest everybody working in this industry to be compassionate towards others.  Every day is a training itself, learn from what you have done and never think you are always right, because everybody has different perspective and everybody sees things differently. So we should gain experience from others and help them grow by sharing what our experiences have been and never forget, at the end of the day we all are humans.


Final Words:

Pride, Gratitude, Sympathy, Commitment, Community


Condor Concierge & Security Guard Vipasha at her Covid-19 Protected Front Desk

Condor is extremely proud of the actions taken by Vipasha, the Condor Concierge on duty during this incident. Your actions have saved lives and you can be proud of your response for the rest of your life. When you were called to perform at your best in a real life situation, not just a training scenario, you answered the call with courage and professionalism. Thank you for your dedication.

One of the members of the Condo’s Board of Directors, shared these words of thanks:  “Thank you Condor.  Hats off to the exceptional training that your firm delivers to your staff.  Vipasha (and Hosni) are superstars!”

“Thank you Condor! Hats off to the exceptional training that your firm delivers to your staff.  Vipasha (and Hosni) are superstars!”

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the residents, we would like to acknowledge the exceptional efforts made by Vipasha during the unfortunate incident in our building that occurred on April 17, 2020.

Throughout this unprecedented event, Vipasha displayed a calm, efficient and professional manner while responding quickly to the rapidly changing demands that were asked of her. Not everyone could step up the way she did in a split second but she didn’t hesitate.

Her caring and compassionate nature was in full force and helped to diffuse the worry and stress that everyone was experiencing.

She is a credit to your company and we are very grateful to her. Please share your feedback with others in your company as you see fit.

Statement from the Board of Directors

We uphold the responsibility of meeting these work challenges with the right responses when it counts. We will continue to ensure that all of our team will be ready and prepared if another event of this nature occurs.

We hope and trust that other communities in Toronto and our other client communities elsewhere will honor this incident by implementing all the lessons learned, and above all else remembering that there is an essential bond that cannot be broken between your building’s residents and your building’s security team. At the moment of need your security team has a very real responsibility to take swift and appropriate actions that may mean the difference between life and death.

In this time of social distancing and social isolation because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, sometimes we feel a loss of connected-ness.

“Events such as these, though unfortunate, do tend to bring us closer together, and remind us that we are all part of a greater community.”

Condor Management

COVID-19 Response Plan In Action

At Condor Security, we stand by and act on our Statement of Purpose every day. We pride ourselves on being forward-thinking, industry-leading and customer-focused.

We are committed to developing specialized training for our employees to ensure we are constantly providing our clients with the support they need at all times and under all conditions. That is why, in mid-January we set out to create a COVID-19 contingency plan, which included training on COVID-19 preparedness and prevention measures.

Our plan was put to the extreme test early on in the Pandemic over a weekend.

A community member, who was in contact with 20 Condor staff members, was perceived to be COVID-19 positive. Our Operation Team immediately executed the plans and made sure all staff and all other individuals who made contact went into Self Isolation. All common areas were professionally sanitized and a new team was deployed in a matter of hours with no disruption of service.

Luckily, the community member was deemed negative – but the swift action and execution of the contingency plans ensured the safety of everyone.

Below is an incredibly kind note we received from our client after the incident took place.

“We are swimming in very unfamiliar and scary waters and so much is changing minute to minute. We had an urgent situation we had to react to on Saturday night and the Condor Team did not let us down. Thank you for having our backs and allowing us to count on you. We truly could not have survived this without you. I can imagine what we caused in your office on Saturday night having to contact all the guards and find us coverage…so appreciated

Our dedicated guards took this seriously and did what they had to do to secure our property and leave it in the hands of those who had never been to our property. I know we scared you and for that I’m sorry, but I think we all learned a great deal about the severity of this virus and how we need to respond.”

We will continue to update and adapt our contingency plan on a regular basis as the situation changes to ensure the safety of everyone.

Virtual Interviews

Condor Security Virtual Interview

At Condor Security we pride ourselves on being leading edge when it comes to our processes, with an emphasis on our recruitment processes and tools. 

As we’re navigating through these new waters it’s important that we maintain our integrity, level of service and quality in our hiring process while we still follow COVID-19 guidelines.

We’ve pivoted quickly to respond to these guidelines and have implemented virtual interviews for all of our candidates. Our candidates can now continue to practice safe social distancing while still moving forward in their application process. All of our candidates will be meeting our recruiters online, through a virtual interview! 

If you’re interested in learning more about our career opportunities, please visit: https://www.condorsecurity.ca/careers/join-our-team/

Virtual Interviews

Condor Security Virtual Interview

At Condor Security we pride ourselves on being leading edge when it comes to our processes, with an emphasis on our recruitment processes and tools. 

As we’re navigating through these new waters it’s important that we maintain our integrity, level of service and quality in our hiring process while we still follow COVID-19 guidelines.

We’ve pivoted quickly to respond to these guidelines and have implemented virtual interviews for all of our candidates. Our candidates can now continue to practice safe social distancing while still moving forward in their application process. All of our candidates will be meeting our recruiters online, through a virtual interview! 

If you’re interested in learning more about our career opportunities, please visit:  https://www.condorsecurity.ca/careers/join-our-team/

International Women’s Day: the Professional Potential of Women

March 8, 2016

In Honour of International Women’s Day: Reflections on the ASIS Women in Security Event from Two Women in the Private Security Field

Condor Security proudly celebrates International Women’s Day; borne out of the aspiration for women’s independence and equality, International Women’s Day celebrates and advocates women’s rights and freedoms worldwide.

 

In November 2015, Condor Security attended the ASIS Toronto Chapter’s annual Women in Security Event and included were female Security & Concierge staff and representatives of Condor, Makeda and Binar.  Below are their reflections on the event in honour and in celebration of International Women’s Day 2016!

Becoming a Female Mentor

 By Makeda J. – Condor Level 3, ASP Instructor, StaySafe IP Instructor

It was my pleasure to attend the November 2015 Annual Women In Security Event hosted by the Toronto Chapter of ASIS International.  I was very happy with the change of environment compared to the event earlier in the year.  Everyone was seated in a roundtable format where the speakers would switch tables until each table had a chance to meet and converse with all four speakers.  They gave useful advice, answered questions, and shared some of their own personal stories and situations.

This event was much more informative but still offered as many opportunities to network with other security professionals as the first event of the year.  Even though a large part of the topics discussed were in regards to professional growth, some information touched on personal growth as well

How can Women advance their career?

Amongst all four speakers, I held on to a statement made by Mr. Luciano Cedrone. When asked what advice he would give a female pursuing a career within the security industry, he mentioned not depending on the approval or motivation of others (society) to make our dreams become a reality.  In his words, “you should be your own motivator and push yourself to achieve your goals.”   To put this in my own words, “stop waiting for a hand and pull yourself up.”  In my first article reflecting on the previous Women in Security event, I mentioned that society’s opinion of women in the security field is partially responsible for the lack of females pushing themselves forward within the industry.

After hearing Mr. Cedrone’s statement, it occurred to me that it’s more so our error in thinking and ultimately our loss (us women) for thinking we need the acceptance of others to pursue a career within a field that mostly consists of men.  If you think about it, the majority of great ideas are only accepted after undergoing much criticism and a lot of hard work on the part of the people behind these ideas.  “I had a dream and I easily accomplished all my goals in no time,” said no great pioneer ever.

The way I see it is that we (not only females, but people in general) need to stop hoping and waiting or even being scared to take risks because we fear being looked down upon or judged.  Who’s to say what’s normal or not?  Why can’t female professionals be a norm for any field of work?  Why must we always follow old trends because it’s uncomfortable to stand out?  My answer: because we accept it.  We accept whatever society deems normal rather than becoming an individual of great change.  In my opinion, our own approval should always come first.  It sounds pretty simple yet it took me twenty plus years to realize this.  Much thanks to Mr. Cedrone for sparking that awareness.

Finding Professional Female Mentors

Aside from attending the event, learning different aspects of the industry, and meeting people that were once in similar positions to where I am today, I had the privilege of selecting another co-worker to attend the ASIS Women in Security Event, Binar S.  My main reason for choosing Binar was the potential I saw in her. When I first met her, it was like looking in a mirror but seeing a past version of myself.  She was a very soft spoken person; although smart and having a lot to offer, she needed more experience to gain more skills and self confidence in order to excel.  With time, the right support and continuous training, Binar has grown into a strong and professional individual.  She has a lot more confidence in herself and she’s also encouraging others to grow within Condor’s Mentoring Program.

After attending the event, I spoke with Binar and I could tell she was motivated to push herself even more.  I have no doubt that this event did exactly what I expected it to do for her; show her she has a lot more to offer to herself and the people around her

From left to right:  Makeda, ASIS Speaker Bonnie Butlin, Binar

Professional Opportunities for Women

 By Binar S. – Condor Level 3, Head Concierge

This was my first time going to an ASIS Women in Security event.  The second I arrived, I noticed how welcoming and friendly everyone was.  I met with a lot of different people who spoke about their experiences in the industry and another woman who works as a security guard.

The Power of Self Confidence

This event inspired and motivated me even more to achieve my goals and it taught me that I can do anything. The mentors talked about ways to achieve the goals that you set for yourself.  I myself am a big dreamer, but for me it always has been ‘what if’ but never ‘when.’  Going to the women in security event has made me want to turn my dreams into a reality.  Maybe one day I will be talking to young women about how to be successful, and that I will be on the other side of the table influencing them, and being able to tell them about my experience as a woman in security.

This event has opened my eyes more to try harder because you never know where your hard work and dedication may lead you. I’ve always told myself that it is impossible to for me to reach a certain goal or position, but this event showed me that you can reach your goals if you set your mind to it, work hard and go that extra mile.

Training and Education for Security Careers

Some advice that was given was that people in the security industry look for two main things. The first one is training and the second is education.  You gain the knowledge and experience. Take every training opportunity you can.  You will grow as an individual and as a professional.

Makeda and Binar at the November 2015 ASIS Women in Security Even

International Women’s Day: the Professional Potential of Women

In Honour of International Women’s Day:  Reflections on the ASIS Women in Security Event from Two Women in the Private Security Field

November 15, 2015 By Makeda J., Condor Level 3
March 10, 2016 By Rob Bayley, Psp, Training Manager At Condor Security Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Condor Security proudly celebrates International Women’s Day; borne out of the aspiration for women’s independence and equality, International Women’s Day celebrates and advocates women’s rights and freedoms worldwide.

In November 2015, Condor Security attended the ASIS Toronto Chapter’s annual Women in Security Event and included were female Security & Concierge staff and representatives of Condor, Makeda and Binar.  Below are their reflections on the event in honour and in celebration of International Women’s Day 2016!

Becoming a Female Mentor

Makeda J. – Condor Level 3, ASP Instructor, StaySafe IP Instructor

It was my pleasure to attend the November 2015 Annual Women In Security Event hosted by the Toronto Chapter of ASIS International.  I was very happy with the change of environment compared to the event earlier in the year.  Everyone was seated in a roundtable format where the speakers would switch tables until each table had a chance to meet and converse with all four speakers.  They gave useful advice, answered questions, and shared some of their own personal stories and situations.

This event was much more informative but still offered as many opportunities to network with other security professionals as the first event of the year.  Even though a large part of the topics discussed were in regards to professional growth, some information touched on personal growth as well.

How can Women advance their career?

Amongst all four speakers, I held on to a statement made by Mr. Luciano Cedrone. When asked what advice he would give a female pursuing a career within the security industry, he mentioned not depending on the approval or motivation of others (society) to make our dreams become a reality.  In his words, “you should be your own motivator and push yourself to achieve your goals.”   To put this in my own words, “stop waiting for a hand and pull yourself up.”  In my first article reflecting on the previous Women in Security event, I mentioned that society’s opinion of women in the security field is partially responsible for the lack of females pushing themselves forward within the industry.

After hearing Mr. Cedrone’s statement, it occurred to me that it’s more so our error in thinking and ultimately our loss (us women) for thinking we need the acceptance of others to pursue a career within a field that mostly consists of men.  If you think about it, the majority of great ideas are only accepted after undergoing much criticism and a lot of hard work on the part of the people behind these ideas.  “I had a dream and I easily accomplished all my goals in no time,” said no great pioneer ever.

The way I see it is that we (not only females, but people in general) need to stop hoping and waiting or even being scared to take risks because we fear being looked down upon or judged.  Who’s to say what’s normal or not?  Why can’t female professionals be a norm for any field of work?  Why must we always follow old trends because it’s uncomfortable to stand out?  My answer: because we accept it.  We accept whatever society deems normal rather than becoming an individual of great change.  In my opinion, our own approval should always come first.  It sounds pretty simple yet it took me twenty plus years to realize this.  Much thanks to Mr. Cedrone for sparking that awareness.

Finding Professional Female Mentors

Aside from attending the event, learning different aspects of the industry, and meeting people that were once in similar positions to where I am today, I had the privilege of selecting another co-worker to attend the ASIS Women in Security Event, Binar S.  My main reason for choosing Binar was the potential I saw in her. When I first met her, it was like looking in a mirror but seeing a past version of myself.  She was a very soft spoken person; although smart and having a lot to offer, she needed more experience to gain more skills and self confidence in order to excel.  With time, the right support and continuous training, Binar has grown into a strong and professional individual.  She has a lot more confidence in herself and she’s also encouraging others to grow within Condor’s Mentoring Program.  

After attending the event, I spoke with Binar and I could tell she was motivated to push herself even more.  I have no doubt that this event did exactly what I expected it to do for her; show her she has a lot more to offer to herself and the people around her.

Professional Opportunities for Women

Binar S. – Condor Level 3, Head Concierge

This was my first time going to an ASIS Women in Security event.  The second I arrived, I noticed how welcoming and friendly everyone was.  I met with a lot of different people who spoke about their experiences in the industry and another woman who works as a security guard.

The Power of Self Confidence

This event inspired and motivated me even more to achieve my goals and it taught me that I can do anything. The mentors talked about ways to achieve the goals that you set for yourself.  I myself am a big dreamer, but for me it always has been ‘what if’ but never ‘when.’  Going to the women in security event has made me want to turn my dreams into a reality.  Maybe one day I will be talking to young women about how to be successful, and that I will be on the other side of the table influencing them, and being able to tell them about my experience as a woman in security.

This event has opened my eyes more to try harder because you never know where your hard work and dedication may lead you. I’ve always told myself that it is impossible to for me to reach a certain goal or position, but this event showed me that you can reach your goals if you set your mind to it, work hard and go that extra mile.

Training and Education for Security Careers

Some advice that was given was that people in the security industry look for two main things. The first one is training and the second is education.  You gain the knowledge and experience. Take every training opportunity you can.  You will grow as an individual and as a professional.

Avital Zeisler’s Soteria Method Seminar

February 7, 2015

CONDOR SECURITY to host AVITAL ZEISLER for a series of women’s self-defence seminars on March 6 and March 8, 2015!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER via Condor’s Course Calendar! (women only)

THE SOTERIA METHOD

Named after the goddess of safety, The Soteria Method brings women a unique and exclusive method of self-defence, fitness, and empowerment.  This method is designed to guide women towards living life to its fullest, while being armed with the knowledge to defend themselves mentally and physically against a violent threat or attack.

MEET AVITAL

Avital Zeisler is a self-defence expert, women’s empowerment coach, and creator of The Soteria Method, a unique practice incorporating fitness, self-defence, and personal discovery.

Her method has already transformed the lives of women from all walks of life including Hollywood actresses like Amanda Seyfried and Keri Russell to women struggling to overcome trauma from violence and sexual assault.

Originally a professional dancer trained at the National Ballet School of Canada, Avital began her exploration of Hand-to-Hand Combat in her personal healing journey of overcoming a sexual assault by working with security specialists, military personnel, and law enforcement officials from around the world and went on to become a globally-sought consultant, coach, and trainer.  Avital is also a combat conditioning coach, working with private clients and celebrities for self-defence and fitness instruction, as well as providing fight training for specific roles for television shows like The Americans and The Blacklist.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER via Condor’s Course Calendar! (women only)