Disaster Preparedness and Recovery, a beginning

May 7, 2008 at 11:23 pm Leave a comment

This subject is one that all property and facility managers dread. Putting together a plan for your property is often a thankless task that seems to have very little payback.

However I can speak from some experience that the payback is huge if that very bad day ever comes….

So where do you begin?

Start by realizing that this is a project with no real ending, what you are designing is a set of rules, guidelines and resources and most importantly a process where by you keep them up to date and practice the plan.

I know that I have completely turned all of you off on starting on one of these now so let me offer some simple suggestions to make it easier, simpler and faster.

First you need to think about the scope of your needs. Do you have only commercial buildings or only residential or both? Do you have only a few buildings or a large portfolio?

Next group your sites into groups that are similar in some way. It may be that they are similar in purpose, all belong to the same division or may simply be grouped geographically.

Now you want to pick an single site out of one of these groups and it should be typical of several sites if possible because you want to be able to copy your work for at least some of your other sites. Do you begin to see where I am going here?

There are several choices you could make as to the next step at this point but for my money the most important one is to start collecting resources that you might need if disaster strikes. If you already have a property portfolio a great deal of this step is already done. However what needs to happen is for you to document a number of things about your site:

  1. Location of all utility installations, water meters and shut offs, breaker or fuse boxes and gas meters and shut offs on a site diagram.
  2. Collect and document on paper all of the utility contact information for the site. This should include account numbers as well if possible.
  3. Collect the phone numbers and other contact information of potential first responders to an emergency, fire department, police department, HAZMAT teams etc.
  4. Develop a relationship with a reputable General Contractor who specializes in disaster remediation. Also a plumber, roofer and electrician if you don’t have existing relationships.
  5. Collect all of this into a notebook, nicely organized and make three copies. One for the trunk of your car, one for the office and one for the site. Paper copies are important because in an emergency who knows what your local conditions will be.

You now have the beginnings of a basic plan and to be honest you would have enough information at hand to stand a better than average chance in coping with most emergencies.

As the title of this post suggests this is the first in an ongoing series that should eventually walk us all through developing a full fledged plan. My plan for this topic is to add a post in the category each Thursday.

As always I look forward to your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact me directly at:


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Entry filed under: Disaster Preparedness, Planning. Tags: , .

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