Define. Plan. Train. - Part 6 of 7

Nov. 15, 2001
Safety & Security Special Report

8. Controlling Chaos:
Disaster Recovery

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 applicable.
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.

10. Communicate!

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 (; Disaster & Recovery Planning: A Guide for Facility Managers (1996), Joseph F. Gustin.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations