S.S. from Orleans County in Louisiana writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Hello, we have a debate going on in our Board around how to manage fire extinguisher inspections in individual units in our 19-unit condo association. On one hand, we want to ensure compliance with the NFPA rules, on the other, owners typically don’t follow instructions to leave out their extinguishers. One idea was to go into units and look for the extinguishers, but this would involve going through owners’ personal belongings, closets, etc. and many are uncomfortable with that. Any advice on how to manage this?
Mister Condo replies:
S.S., Kudos to your association for taking fire prevention so seriously. The NFPA rules save lives to be sure. Getting owners to comply with the association’s rules regarding fire extinguisher inspection is no different than getting the owners to comply with any other rule of the association. Take a look at your governance documents. What do they say about failure to comply with association rules? Warning notices, fines, something else? When a unit owner fails to comply, simply begin the compliance process as outlined in your governance documents. If none exist, create some. Typically, a notice is sent to the owner requesting they appear before the Board to explain why they did not comply. Once the notice is given and the owner has an opportunity to state their case, the Board can decide what to do next. Sometimes a warning is enough; other times further action is required. Remember the goal isn’t to punish the unit owners. The goal is to have them voluntarily comply with the rules as they agreed to do when they became members of the association. All the best!