Disaster Recovery: Confidence in Crisis (5 of 7)

April 3, 2006

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Working with a Restoration Provider

No one wants to believe that disaster is possible: But, when building emergencies strike, it’s imperative that you know who to call. Disaster restoration experts can provide recovery solutions ranging from restoration and mold remediation to reconstruction. Forming a partnership with a provider that has the skills and expertise to clean up a disaster and restore the building is crucial to resume “business-as-normal” operations. Knowing who to hire is a matter of asking the right questions:

  1. How long has the company been providing restoration services? “You really should take the time, pre-disaster or post-disaster, to do your homework; with the hurricane activity we’ve had in the last 2 years, new companies have popped up everywhere,” says Theresa Williams, executive vice president, sales and marketing, BELFOR USA, Ft. Worth, TX. “People that were milking cows last week [claim to] suddenly know how to restore your building. It’s really critical to find a company that has been in business for quite some time.”
  2. Does the company have a list of references? Do they have experience restoring buildings of similar function, construction, and square footage? Make sure the provider you select has excellent references and has restored property comparable to yours. A semiconductor plant has very different needs than an elementary school or 30-story office tower. Make sure the provider understands these needs and is familiar with how to address them.
  3. What type of training have the company’s employees received? Organizations like the Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration; the Indoor Air Quality Association; and the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration offer professional training and designations. Ask if the company’s professionals have obtained any of the following designations: Certified Restorer (CR), Certified Mold Remediator, or Water Loss Specialist. Not only is it important that the provider demonstrate proper training via these credentials, but it may also be in your best interest to ask about the number of employees trained and whether those certified professionals will be working on your disaster recovery project. Additionally, inquire about what the company is doing to ensure compliance with OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard and EPA regulations.
  4. Is the company financially stable? If you decide that the restoration contractor will provide reconstruction services, this is especially important. This work is often guaranteed, and if a company does not have the financial means to support a warranty claim, the warranty is worthless.
  5. What is a reasonable response time? The type and scale of the disaster will impact how quickly the restoration crew responds. “Somebody should be on-site within hours (at a maximum) and begin procedures as quickly as possible, depending on the situation,” explains Peter Duncanson, disaster restoration training director, ServiceMaster Clean, Memphis, TN. If a retail store is flooded because of a broken plumbing valve, you can expect a vastly different response than what resulted during Hurricane Katrina. When widespread natural disasters wreak havoc on an area, it is often difficult for the restoration team to gain access to the site

However, one thing is certain - the longer the delay, the greater the chance that water intrusion will result in mold and mildew growth. “It takes 48 to 72 hours for mold colonies to germinate because of moisture,” Duncanson explains. Microbial and bacterial growth can also result if you don’t act quickly. There are many reasons to create a pre-disaster agreement with a restoration provider, but one of the most advantageous is that it allows the recovery to begin almost immediately. Clients who have signed pre-arranged contracts receive priority response.

Once hired, trust the provider to do the job. They’re experts with skills, training, and equipment, and will have the building up and running as smoothly as before. To make their efforts as effective as possible, promptly provide your restoration partner with all necessary information (e.g. building plans, information about the facility’s power supply, etc.).

“In the past, disaster recovery started focusing on computers and information systems. Over the years, people just haven’t thought about the facility and how to get [it] back up and running. Now, a little more focus has [been directed] to the facility,” says Williams.

Jana J. Madsen ([email protected]), Managing Editor

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