Downtown Toronto Condo Fire Emergency April 2020

Downtown Toronto Condo Fire 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.

Police in area for assault when fire started

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:

Condor Concierge Security Guard Vipasha profile

“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 firetrucks on street
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 Security Operations Training Manager
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

Vipasha at desk with covid protection
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
Toronto Skyline Blog
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.


Ilyas Jake a
July 24, 2014 By Jake Q.


How does it feel to complete the Condor Evolution Program?

Completing the Condor Evolution program feels revolutionary in that I feel very capable and able to take on and have the confidence to conquer all that comes my way. I don’t have nervousness as I do boldness and determination to tackle the problems in front of me

Ilyas Jake c

S/G Jake extinguishing a live fire during a drill in the FireSafe training course

In your opinion, what was the best security training course at Condor and why?

My favorite course was the Tactical Awareness Course for several reasons.  First, it had many various fun learning methods like scenarios, videos, slides, and demonstrations.  All these methods made it fun

Why do you believe social commitment is important?

Social Commitment is very important as we need to help those in need, just as we may need help if the time ever comes where we are in need.  Social commitment helps in more ways than one.  It rejuvenates your feeling towards mankind and makes you see how fragile and helpless we can become, even though we would never admit to it.

What challenges did you face on the road to completion of the program?

The challenges I faced while completing the Evolution program include dieting, working out, and doing my best to handle stressful situations.  The situations don’t come often and they don’t come with any warning; but you have to be on your toes and on the ball whenever the crisis presents itself.

Ilyas Jake a

S/G Jake and S/G Konstantin preparing for physical use of force drills during Level 3 training

What benefits have you gained as a result of completing the Condor Evolution Program?

The benefits I gained from the Condor Evolution program were becoming more outspoken, bold, and making sure that I get my job done, done well, and according to each and every policy no matter how difficult it may be for me or for the person I’m dealing with. I used to be shy and timid and would let things slide as I would feel it’s something that is not important enough; but now I’m a changed man.

Ilyas Jake e

How to be the best security guard and/or concierge you can be and take the most from the experience at Condor Security?

Security Guards and Concierge Staff face stressful, difficult, and high pressure situations.  People can feel anxious in critical situations and go somewhat overboard when a problem arises.  This can be solved very easily sometimes with extra training and know how.  The Condor Evolution is an extremely helpful program which helps you grow and be the best you can be and you can use that training not only at any site with Condor but with any future endeavors no matter what they may be.  The Evolution Program gives you great skill, and self-esteem to deal with anything and to know in your mind that you can deal with anything



Condor Security Logo
June 5, 2015 By Condor’s Team

One of Condor’s private school clients recently published an article in their school newspaper which contained an interview with the school’s Executive Director on implementing a security guard.

Following is a summary of the article:

Up until recently, our school had an “open door” policy.  Anyone who felt like walking in was able to do just that.

Although it was easier for parents who needed to drop off lunches for their children, it was noted that this might not be the optimal level of school security.

About three months ago, things changed.  Special locks were installed on every door, and a security guard was hired to look out over the school

willy school security guard

The first question that comes to mind is: why now? In the more than 60 years of the school’s existence, never once was a security guard permanently hired.

The Executive Director explained some of the thinking behind the changes in security.

“We want to make sure everybody is in a safe environment. Because of some recent incidents internationally, the school has decided to make the grounds safer. It is important for us to have security guard personnel who make sure everybody is safe and protected. The students and parents are worth the cost.”

The Executive Director said the school chose Condor Security because they have a good training program and they have experience with schools. It was further explained that it was important to have a guard who is able to deal with the many students and the schedule of parents coming and going.

He explained that the main purpose of a security guard is not to use force. “We don’t think the guard is going to protect us from every situation. The guard services as a deterrent for anybody that’s going to come through. The evidence shows that if a person who is up to no good sees the security guard, he is more like to go elsewhere.”

The Executive Director said, “it’s important to understand that the security guard can’t take care of all the security needs by himself. Security really has to be everybody together. Everyone – students, parents, and teachers – have to be aware and alert to see if there’s any suspicious activity