Fires or floods within an office or building can range from small incidents of short duration to the complete destruction of the facility.
Even a relatively small fire/flooding incident can have a very disruptive impact on a business. For example, a small fire in an office on an upper floor can result in the complete flooding of computers and telephone systems in the offices below as the building’s sprinkler systems kick in and firefighters seek to extinguish the blaze.
Similarly, even a relatively limited amount of water leaking from a broken pipe or valve can put some or all of a business’s technology infrastructure out of commission.
A large fire, of course, can force a business to have to relocate all of its operations temporarily or permanently.
There are approximately 100,000 commercial building fires in the U.S. per year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Those at highest risk include manufacturing facilities, as well as offices located above or in proximity to restaurants because cooking is a primary cause of non-residential structure fires, just as it is in homes.
Water damage from failed plumbing, sprinkler systems, etc. can short-circuit electronic equipment with zero warning. However, building alarm systems typically give employees a few minutes to shut down critical systems and evacuate the premises.
As noted above, the severity and length of business disruptions caused by fires and flooding can vary considerably. To be prepared for extended or permanent facility damage, businesses should:
- Maintain continuous off-site backup of data, applications, and server images.
- Have arrangements in place for re-routing incoming calls to an alternative site and/or to employees’ mobile phones.
- Prepare an emergency posting for the company website that can be activated immediately and progressively as the consequences of the event unfold.
Because building fires and flooding only affect individual structures (or, at worst, just a few adjoining ones as well), businesses impacted have a lot of options for keeping people productive. Business Continuity plans should include:
- Arrangements in advance with a nearby shared/furnished office space provider, hotel, college, or other facility for an immediate/temporary operations command center.
- Next-day workspace provisioning in another company facility, emergency failover “cold site,” or at home personal desktops/laptops with appropriate call forwarding.
- Internal communications for keeping employees updated on resource availability, recovery status, etc.
- Any necessary third-party contracting for shipping/receiving, mail processing, duplicating, etc.
Again, because building fires and flooding are highly localized, they typically only disrupt processes that touch a single company location. Business continuity plans therefore need to provide for alternative locations and means to perform actions such as:
- Answering phones
- Processing orders
- Issuing invoices
- Signing checks
- Filing reports required by regulatory mandates
A properly insured business should have a policy that covers the expenses above, in addition to the physical damage directly caused by the fire or flood. Businesses may also seek policy provisions that address work done from home or other locations while the facility is under repair (and/or a new location is secured) as well as business losses that may occur despite best-effort BC planning and execution.
Learn more via Datto’s Natural Disaster Survival Guide.
President / Network Architect
Mark Kolean always had a fascination with technology from the time he was 3 and his gift of the Atari 2600 to current. In 1990 at the age of 14 Mark got his first job in customer support for a mail order business supporting Tandy TSR-80 computer software shipped on cassette tape. A few years later Mark was building hundreds of 286, 386, and 486 computers for the new emerging DOS & Windows 3.1 computers that had exploded on the market.
After a college career studying business and technology Mark Started Shoreline Computer Systems in 1999 at the height of the dot.com boom with the looming crisis of the year2k bug just around the corner. In the early 2000’s a lot of work was done with early network systems including Lantastic, Novell, and Windows NT Server. Mark became a community contributor to the Small Business Specialist community that revolved around Small Business Server 2000-2011 which focused on single or dual server environments for businesses up to 50 in size. Networks during this time frame mostly had a break fix relationship in which work was billed only when a problem occurred.
In the 2010’s Microsoft released their first cloud based software called Microsoft BPOS which would in later become known as Microsoft Office 365. This introduced a new model in technology with pay as you go subscription services. Starting in 2013 Mark’s team at Shoreline Computer System rebranded as Shoreline Technology Solutions to focus on the transition to become proactive and less reactive to data backup and security needs. Starting in 2018 all customers are required to have a backup management plan in place as a center point with the full understanding that if STS isn’t watching the customer’s data, then no one is.
Now in Mark’s 22 years of business he is building a company emphasis of how to help customers retire servers and build networks completely in the cloud.