By Randall Hanifen
Contributor, EDM Digest
To ensure business continuity, business owners and managers should spend a few hours with local police and fire departments planning how emergency responders should react to an emergency at their business. First responders need to be familiar with the buildings and operations. This planning and familiarization helps first responders to focus not only on potential emergencies, but also on actions they will take to permit businesses to resume operations as quickly as possible.
Police Planning Involves Building Accessibility, Security and Layouts
Police and fire personnel have different interests and responsibilities and will interact in different ways. Police will focus on security and entry and exit points.
An active shooter is one of the most frightful and potentially life-threatening police events that can occur at a business. While such shootings were rare in years past, we now know from the news that active shooter events occur often throughout the country.
Also, active shooter events are not limited to one specific type of business. I encountered an active shooter event at a trucking terminal in a suburban community near where I work.
Police will want to know relevant information, such as:
- The building’s layout
- How doors and windows are secured
- If there are numbers on the building’s doors
- If there are areas where police can hide on the perimeter of the property
- The location of troubled employees or employees with criminal records
Fire Department Planning Includes Knowledge of Internal Fire Protection Systems
The fire department will also have an interest in building layouts. Firefighters will want to know all entry and exit points, as well as the security on all doors. Fire chiefs and other department officials will want to know the techniques they will need to overcome building security and where firefighters can enter a building on fire.
Additionally, the fire department must know the location and operation of installed fire protection systems, natural gas shutoff valves and electrical panels. The fire department also should have a basic understanding of the business equipment and processes as well as how safety equipment and hazardous materials might interact with business processes.
The police and fire departments have similar concerns during these planning sessions, but each has different perspectives on the specific elements of the business.
By spending time with police and fire departments before an emergency, business owners and managers can minimize the disaster recovery time and return to business promptly. The few hours spent discussing each other’s concerns is well worth the effort.