Tricks Of The Trade: Disaster Planning

By B. Kevin Folsom, CEP
Published in the June 2013 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

QWhat role, if any, does facilities management (FM) play in an organization’s business continuity/disaster recovery program? And ideally, what do you believe FM’s role should be? In other words, what can facility managers (fms) actually plan for? Are there limits on the scope of advance planning (physical, theoretical, self-imposed)?

Jim Mitchell
eBRP Solutions
Phoenix, AZ

AAs I am sure you’re aware, this is a really big question! As I reflect on the vast content available on this subject, I think a guideline is best to get right to the meat of the matter. If there is a full-time professional fm on staff—and they are not turning wrenches daily, then you have someone who should be well connected to service contractors, emergency remediation services, and the local fire marshal’s office. The fm should be well versed in OSHA and environmental requirements along with other services that will be needed when a disaster strikes. After a disaster occurs is not a time to turn to the phone book looking for services. The fm should be skilled in leading people to perform physical tasks and understand the safety aspects of those tasks.

While there are those assigned to speak with the media, some to make decisions, and others to provide security, the fm will be the primary person to oversee work to be done (e.g., moving furniture, bringing utilities back online, and restoring facilities) while ensuring things are returned to normal operation.

What fms plan for is keeping all these things in place day in and day out. It is very important that he or she is involved in all business continuity/disaster recovery planning because the facilities and service staff touch every aspect of this.