8. Controlling Chaos:
The smoke has cleared, and the panic has settled. Whether the building has
suffered damage as a result of fire, earthquake, or other disaster, a few basic
steps should be taken immediately to get a facility restoration and building
occupation underway. According to Chicago-based Institute of Real Estate Management
(IREM) in Before Disaster Strikes: Developing an Emergency Procedures Manual:
• DO NOT CLEAN UP without taking photographs or video footage
and documenting in a report what occurred and the resulting damage. This is
essential for insurance purposes. One of the first phone calls that should be
made following the disaster is to the insurance agent and adjuster.
• Contact the following: the building's architect and engineer
to identify structural damage and assess corrective actions; contractors; maintenance
crews; and utilities.
• Arrange for security measures to be taken that will cease looting
and prohibit unauthorized individuals from entering the building until it is
returned to its normal operating condition.
• Ask local authorities such as firefighters or police officials
to inspect the building and determine if it is safe to enter the building, when
• Schedule times when building occupants can re-enter and retrieve
their personal belongings. Be sure and request that identification be shown,
and record a list of items that are removed.
9. Fast Forward:
Ensure Your Company's Business Continuity
When a tornado or earthquake cripples power and renders data retrieval impossible,
business suffers. Being prepared for disaster through off-site data storage
enables work to continue and businesses to recover from the devastating effects
of even the worst catastrophes. Secure information with the following tips:
• Run a network back-up at least once a week.
• Choose an automated back-up process with ample storage capabilities.
• Consider using online back-up services.
• Implement procedures to verify back-ups.
• Always store back-up drives off-site.
• Scan back-up drives regularly to protect against viruses.
• Do it now!
The potential of emergency standby power is just beginning to be tapped. In
addition to installing standby power systems to meet local and national codes
for emergencies, facilities professionals are increasingly using these systems
to reduce energy costs. In light of the tragic events of September 11th, facilities
managers, building owners, and tenants are now renewing their focus on emergency
power and disaster preparedness.
In and around the World Trade Center complex, 13.4 million square feet of commercial
real estate was destroyed. According to Julien J. Studley, Inc.'s Market and
Spacedata report, tenants are re-thinking critical aspects of their leases,
including their facilities' disaster recovery and contingency plans. As the
nation rebuilds, proactive facilities professionals will prioritize emergency
power as part of a sound emergency management plan.
When building your emergency preparedness plan, it is helpful to involve and
glean input from local responders, the public works department, the American
Red Cross, area medical facilities, and utility providers. Especially beneficial
to organizations such as the fire and police department, a walk-through of the
facility will familiarize individuals with the floor plan and prove useful during
an emergency situation. It is also a good idea to involve these emergency response
groups in your routine drills and simulation exercises.
When a crisis passes the point of emergency, it is time to report on the incident
through communication with local (and sometimes national) media. Building a
plan will help you prepare to address questions and effectively communicate
information to all interested parties. According to Are Your Tenants Safe? BOMA's
Guide to Security and Emergency Planning (2000), author Lawrence G. Perry provides
the following tips: respond quickly, tell the truth and be accurate, try to
shed a positive light on the situation, do not discuss legal/liability issues,
and respond sympathetically when injury and loss of life have occurred. Avoiding
the media will only reflect negatively on a company.
To eliminate confusion and keep the message consistent, a spokesperson for
the facility should be assigned to address all media questions, requests, and
interviews. An alternate spokesperson should also be designated. Building occupants
and other facilities professionals should be notified to direct questions from
the media to the assigned individual(s).
SOURCES: Are Your Tenants Safe? BOMA's Guide to Security and Emergency Planning,
Building Owners and Managers Association International (www.boma.org);
Disaster & Recovery Planning: A Guide for Facility Managers (1996),
Joseph F. Gustin.