Home Preparedness Basic Elements of Fire and Police Planning to Ensure Business Continuity

Basic Elements of Fire and Police Planning to Ensure Business Continuity


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.

Randall Hanifen Dr. Hanifen serves as a shift commander at a medium-sized suburban fire department in the northern part of the Cincinnati area. Randall is the CEO/principal consultant of an emergency services consulting firm, providing analysis and solutions related to organizational structuring of fire and EMS organizations. He is the chairperson and operations manager for a county technical rescue team. from a state and national perspective, he serves as a taskforce leader for one of FEMA's urban search and rescue teams, which responds to presidential declared disasters. From an academic standpoint, Randall has a bachelor’s degree in fire administration, a master’s degree in executive fire service leadership, and a doctoral degree in business administration with a specialization in homeland security. He is the associate author of “Disaster Planning and Control” (Penwell, 2009), which provides first responders with guidance through all types of disasters.