F.C. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Hi, Mr. Condo! I am in a condo where the lights in the common areas (i.e. stairwells and hallways) are affected when there is a power outage in my area, which happens quite often. The Association is aware of this situation. I assumed that the emergency lights would come on, but they are defective. When I bring this up to the association, they take a non-nonchalant approach and do not seem to care about the fact that the residents have to go through the common areas in pitch darkness. There are young children in this building, some with special needs who should not be placed in an unsafe environment. Is there any law that would push the association to act especially since it is involving children?
Mister Condo replies:
F.C., sorry to learn that you are living in the dark during power outages where emergency lighting has failed. I can imagine that it is quite terrifying to try to navigate stairwells and hallways in pitch black. I am not an attorney and I do not know of any laws that will help you out but your local fire inspector might be an ally in your cause to rally the Board to take action. Additionally, a quick call to the association’s insurer might be in order to alert them to the HUGE liability that is being created by not providing proper emergency lighting. You can imagine the lawsuit that will result in someone falling down an unlit stairwell during a power outage. The insurer is very likely to demand that the emergency lights be kept in working order. Does your town have a building inspector? This is one other person who would likely not be amused to get a report of emergency lighting not working properly.
As for the Board that is unwilling to take the corrective actions to fix such a vital part of the community’s safety protection program I have some additional advice. Vote them out of office at your earliest convenience! Maintaining, protecting, and enhancing the association’s common elements is their only job. If they can’t see how keeping the emergency lighting system function properly is a top priority then they need to be replaced with volunteer leaders who do understand. Perhaps you should run for the Board. It seems to me you have a good understanding of how this problem needs to be solved and the importance of taking swift action. All the best!