Curtis Massey, Founder, President, and CEO
9/11—a fateful day in the history of the U.S., shook the sense of security to its very foundation for many. The world’s mightiest country was under attack. The day changed the lives of every American resident forever. The attack on the World Trade Center recorded a death toll of over 2500 people. While thousands of people fell prey to the assault, there were hundreds of firefighters and emergency management veterans behind the scene trying to rescue the lives of people, risking their own. One such person is Curtis S. D. Massey, a former fire officer and the founder of a leading emergency threat solution firm—Massey Emergency Management, who coincidentally happened to travel to New York on that eventful day. Upon hearing the news, Curtis’s conscience immediately gripped him as he realized that his company’s preplans and knowledge could be of help during the biggest and deadliest terror attack ever on U.S. soil. Although Massey Emergency Management did not have data on the WTC, it did have plans for buildings that surrounded the complex that were most likely to be affected by falling debris. “I felt that if I could just get there, I could offer enough assistance to at least make my presence justifiable,” explains Curtis, the company’s Founder, President, and CEO. Since several surrounding buildings were Massey clients, he presented their pre-fire plans curated by his company to the FDNY and NYPD upon his arrival at the site. Massey’s preplans were the only plans used on 9/11.
Additionally, in subsequent days, Curtis’s team helped create sub-level floor plans for the twin towers to assist the search teams working “the pile”. With the preplans and hastily designed floor plans, search teams could more effectively search surrounding buildings impacted by the collapse as well as the debris pile itself for any survivors. Massey’s team even drew up USAR (Urban Search & Rescue) search grids detailing the layout of the structural support columns on a grid pattern to enhance the search effort.
“Our preplan provides much needed intelligence on building systems and layouts that becomes a ‘go-to’ resource for both first responders and engineering personnel as an event unfolds”
The account on the 9/11 response from Massey underscores the importance of having preplans in an emergency to mitigate threats and minimize danger. As crises are often unpredictable, preparedness and planning is critical to protecting lives, the environment, and property. Due to the diverse nature of building layouts and mechanical systems, an incident commander needs to know how a building and its systems will respond to the emergency at hand – and how they can be used to their advantage. Crucial building data can help make informed decisions to save lives and reduce content loss. In this regard, Massey offers a multi-pronged approach to protecting buildings relative to preparation, reaction, and recovery from over 130 emergencies via both their pre-plans (hard copy and digitized) and their ground-breaking emergency mobile app called “The Massey App”. The preplans include information on elevators, stairwells, HVAC, water supply, communications, utilities, Hazmat, structural features, tenant proprietary systems and firefighting tactical concerns specific to that building. These preplans are essentially engineering plans focused on capturing the building’s infrastructure and reconfiguring it into a firefighter friendly format. “Our preplan provides much needed intelligence on building systems and layouts that becomes a ‘go-to’ resource for both first responders and engineering personnel as an event unfolds,” says Curtis. Preplans have been the baseline of the company’s products since 1986 and are tailored to how first responders think and operate. In addition to preplanning, the company also offers an advanced mobile emergency app (that took 3 years and $1.2 million to build), a Tenant Training Portal (TTP) program covering fire, human threats, natural disasters, medical emergencies, and pandemics.
Managing Emergencies with Preplans
For over three decades, Massey has created the industry standard Massey Plan for office, residential, and hospitality buildings. The complete “Massey Plan” includes a fire officer survey (on large structures), a summary on Fire Department concerns, separate detailed building systems overviews, floor plans, riser diagrams, site plan and more. Massey’s unique client engagement strategy kickstarts with sending a list of requirements, including building drawings needed to create a plan. They also send a Data Collection Form (DCF) to the chief engineer to provide building system information. The company’s fire officer also visits the facility to verify the data received by the client and verify key shut-off locations, fire water supply features and offer tips on how to make the building more “firefighter friendly”, which mostly centers around basic, simple signage.
Blueprints/CAD drawings are rarely accurate, so a site visit is highly beneficial for larger structures. A side benefit is that the engineers learn their building from a firefighter’s perspective and even learn more about their base systems through Massey’s in-depth expertise. The cost of a Massey Plan depends on the number of stories and square feet. “We offer multiple types of plan options that fit the budget parameters of any building, from 1-100 stories,” says Curtis.
I push hard to honor the lives of my fallen brothers and sisters, who gave their all for buildings they did not own and for people they did not know. That says something about courage and sacrifice. I cannot honor them if I am not giving 110 percent every day
Massey also has a new Virtual Evacuation Drill (VED) program that allows buildings to be code compliant for evacuation training while avoiding the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Upon request, the company can even create top-notch flood plans for clients in need, that have been lauded by insurance company risk managers. Curtis highlights that Massey’s preplans primarily help save lives and secondarily minimize property losses, in turn reducing tenant displacement/downtime. The use of the preplan and App gets the occupants back into the building in the shortest time frame possible. Over the years, Massey’s expertise has impacted many lives and buildings, including nearly every major storm that has made landfall in the U.S in the past several decades.
Massey’s next-generation mobile application “Massey App” is the digitized version of preplanning, as well as an instant reference source for “what do I do” articles covering a vast array of emergencies, including fire, flood, weather and other natural events, human threats, gas incidents, medical events, hazmat incidents, power outages and technical rescues. It assists building staff personnel in managing incidents of all types via expert-written articles complimented by critical PDF schematics. Whether a leak/flood; gas event; fire; steam, transformer or gas explosion; kitchen hood/duct fire, all event articles possess hyperlinks to floor plans and riser diagrams that have that feature highlighted and labeled for rapid reference purposes. This is important, as many staff personnel can easily struggle under intense pressure and cannot recall base building information when called upon by first responders. These articles guide the end-users through how to prepare, react, and recover from all threats and events from a first responder perspective. The App also has in invaluable feature that allows the user – building staff or FD/PD commander – to “paint the scene” utilizing a unique annotator feature that can quickly be shared in seconds with other scene operators, allowing for a much more coordinated effort during the incident management process.
“With everything becoming mobile and digital, we have designed our best-in-class mobile app that takes the entire process of preparing for, reacting to and recovering from emergencies to an entirely new level by injecting our combined 400 years of first responder expertise into the equation,” says Curtis.
Initially intended for civilians, the Massey App has quickly become a massive hit with fire and police departments (special operations units) and has now been adopted by most major city agencies in the U.S., coast to coast. The Massey App has also been placed into the emergency dispatch centers of many cities as a “dispatch prompt” for responding units, notifying them enroute they are responding to a Massey protected building. They possess unparalleled “street cred” within the first responder community. Credibility is everything.
The App: A Shining Star
Notably, the beauty of the Massey App is that it is simple and easy to use, such that even a four-year-old can pick it up and figure out all the main functions within seconds.
And it has to be that simple because if it’s complicated and requires intense concentration or thought, it won’t work under pressure when the end-user, typically a civilian with no emergency response background, is trying to figure out how to react to a given sudden threat. Too often, they cannot compartmentalize the intense stress they are under. “With our app, we simply enable them with basic steps in brief bullets to follow, as if a fire chief, medic or SWAT leader just jumped onto their shoulder and began whispering what to do,” says Curtis.
Once a Firefighter, Always a Firefighter
The driving force behind Massey’s impeccable track record in emergency management is Curtis, who has a deep understanding of building systems and fire ground tactics and strategy. His expertise provides the fundamentals to create the most comprehensive preplans in existence. Curtis’s obsession with life safety and, more specifically, firefighter safety, having lost 13 friends in the line of duty, drove him to become one of the fire service’s top instructors, specializing in high-rise operations. He has personally trained most of the biggest cities in the U.S., Canada and Europe on the topic for free and has also selflessly given his time assisting them in rewriting their high-rise standard operating procedures, which speaks volumes about his standing in the fire service. He also created the revolutionary concept of “Rapid Ascent Teams” just after 9/11, which has now been adopted by most big cities. “I push hard to honor the lives of my fallen brothers and sisters, who gave their all for buildings they did not own and for people they did not know. That says something about courage and sacrifice. I cannot honor them if I am not giving 110 percent every day,” says Curtis.
In his endeavor at Massey Emergency Management, he is supported by a deep pool of real-world experience with fire and police special operations talent from big cities throughout the country. “We know what building management teams need to know, but we also listen to what their needs are and ensure we tailor our service offerings towards filling the gaps in their preparedness planning that will prove effective when called upon,” notes Curtis. The company is backed by some of the most elite fire officers and SWAT team leaders from the respective response sectors, helping build services that work and are proven under fire via countless events from minor emergencies to major catastrophes over the past three decades including 9/11, Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. “Every day is the Super Bowl and we’re the ‘72 Dolphins. We strive for excellence and perfection. We constantly challenge our employees to think outside the box and innovate. They, in turn, respond with great ideas to keep us out front,” says Curtis. Additionally, the company provides advanced first responder training that creates a bond with the first responder community, planning and executing several large-scale disaster exercises each year. The Massey system is always front and center, running the event. “Just the fact we’ve succeeded in getting nearly every major city fire dept to rewrite their high-rise firefighting SOPs speaks volumes to our credibility.”
Massey Emergency Management protects the vast majority of the tallest and highest profile buildings and complexes in the U.S. Their sterling client list includes most of the largest banks, REITs, pension funds and institutional owners. Hudson Yards, Brickell City Center, Lincoln Center, Empire State Building, Transamerica Pyramid, Wilshire Grand, NYSE, SEC facilities are just a few of the addresses they’ve been engaged on.
Over the years, Massey Plans and Massey Apps have been used on countless emergencies of all kinds and prevented the loss of many lives, with property losses alone being reduced dramatically. With an established footprint in the real estate industry, Massey is looking forward to entering the government sector as a preeminent leader in life safety. The company is also launching a 3.0 version of its app with new features to cater to both first responder and civilian needs. One of the new features is split-screen technology which allows the user to simultaneously see two PDFs side-by-side (such as a floor plan and standpipe riser) and draw over either or both, then quickly send to all scene commanders (or fellow building staff personnel), allowing for a smoother, more proficient operation.
The leading-edge concepts never stop evolving at Massey, the industry’s world leader.