Jeremy Brooks oversees more than 4,000,000 square feet of New York City Fire Department (FDNY) facilities that include, firehouses, emergency medical Stations, training facilities and administrative offices. His daily activities include working with senior management and various members of the agency to assist in compliance with the agency’s mission statement: “FDNY protects the lives and property of New York City residents and visitors.” By ensuring that all the facilities are functional, it enables the brave men and women to perform their life-saving duties each and every day.
“Jeremy is someone who didn’t come here with a Facilities Management background or thought of it as a long-term career path. But once he started I could tell what an amazing worker he was and that he had the skillset for this industry. He has learned so much in his 10+ years with FDNY that many people use him for his knowledge and as a resource. It has been my absolute honor to watch him learn and grow each day.” — Joseph M. Mastropietro, Assistant Commissioner, FDNY
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“I am a former reality TV star (I won’t tell you which one). During the whole reality TV craze, I was approached to do one and accepted — not something most people know about me and not something I usually share.”
How did you get into the Facilities/Real Estate field?
“I actually went into Facilities Management randomly. I had recently left a job in the financial industry and was looking for a career change. I saw that FDNY needed someone in their Facilities Management Bureau, and I decided to give it a try. Since that time I took every challenge and learned more about this field. I began taking courses to better manage and understand Facilities Management. I tell people all the time to take courses and continue to learn, never stop.”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“My favorite project was my first project with the FDNY. It was small interior redesign of a warehouse. At that time I hadn’t yet overseen any projects, and this was my chance. All I was given was what needed to be done, and I had to cost estimate and work with designers and engineers to plan this job. This was all new for me at this time. While the project wasn’t as high profile as some of my others, this project gave the experience and confidence to know that I can do this type of work. To this day I still refer back to my notes from that job.”
What is your greatest success story?
“My greatest success has been watching two of my staff grow and succeed in this field. Stephanie Williams and Cassandra Richard (nominated as an IFMA emerging leader) are two of the upcoming innovative leaders in FDNY Facilities Management. They both have found a career that they have excelled at and make strides each day to show how vital they are to the FDNY. Watching them both learn, manage and oversee projects, coming from different fields, makes me happy as a leader and teacher. Being a mentor and helping people achieve their goals means the world to me.”
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“The biggest obstacle we face is the size of our buildings. Seventy percent of them are more than 75 years old, and to make them functional and compliant with new technology, new mandates and the size of fire trucks is not easy. Our firehouses were built for horse and buggy carriages, not long modern trucks. So taking an 8,000 s/f building and making it hold 12,000 s/f of our program, plus continuously changing requirements, is not always easy, but, working with some of the brightest minds in Facilities Management, we always seem to find a way.”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FMs?
“Don’t stress and do not take anything personally. Working for a municipality, there is always pushback, usually on money and the need at the moment. But it is always important to be passionate about what you believe in. If you feel something is a necessity, you need to let the right people know. If you want it to happen, it will.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary