B_0213_Editors_Letter

Make a Disaster Plan, Work Your Disaster Plan

Jan. 21, 2013
There’s no time like the present to revisit your organization’s disaster plan.

An intangible like awareness can be a difficult thing to measure, yet recent calamities – hurricanes, shootings, power interruptions, data hacking – are making FMs more mindful of disaster planning.

One indicator is our latest annual survey of BUILDINGS subscribers, which included some 900 respondents. For the first time in memory, fire and life safety issues narrowly edged out regulations, maintenance costs, and energy management as the No. 1 information priority.

The FMs' concern seems justified given events – and statistics – on many fronts. For example, weather forecasters believe that since 1995 the East Coast has been experiencing a climate pattern that drives more Atlantic hurricane activity. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 70% of hurricane seasons over those years – including 2012 – had higher than average activity.

Power quality and reliability, regardless of related weather conditions, are also legitimate concerns. A researcher at the University of Minnesota compiled data showing that blackouts in the U.S. electrical grid increased in frequency and duration from 1995 to 2010. In an average year, the outages totaled 92 minutes in the Midwest and 214 minutes in the Northeast. Of course the U.S. grid's performance could be far better rather than declining; Japan, for example, averaged only 4 minutes of interrupted service over those years. Events like Hurricane Sandy and Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami are not included in these outages.

As noted in this month’s article on disaster preparation, there’s no time like the present to revisit your organization’s disaster plan. Does it meet OSHA regulations and NFPA 1600? Does it match your organization’s mission and its key vulnerabilities? Does it include clear implementation steps and assign duties to specific individuals? Evacuation procedures and routes? Instructions on shutting down critical systems and operations? Alternative production scenarios?

You do have a written disaster plan, don’t you?

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