Facility manager in case of emergency

What Facility Managers Need to Know In Case of an Emergency

The best way to handle an emergency is to plan for one. (link here to previous blogs if you want) In previous blogs, we have discussed that it can be too late to protect tenants and building visitors if you wait until an emergency happens. Managers must be prepared well in advance.

Further, Facility Managers must think outside-the-box.  Fires, explosions, and extreme weather events are some of the most common emergencies Facility Managers face. However, violence, terrorism, and suspicious activity must now be added to the mix.

Fortunately, Facility Managers do not need to handle it alone.  They can turn to others that are already in the business of protecting people and property.  One resource that proves invaluable is the local fire department.

Fire departments were initially created to respond to emergencies, but today their focus has shifted to prevention.  “Most fire departments are very happy to help local businesses with their emergency plans,” says Mike Cyphers with the Henderson, Nevada fire department.  “The better prepared the public and local businesses are, the easier our job will be, should an emergency take place.”

To take advantage of this resource, Facility Managers should consider the following preventative steps:

Inspection.  Having the facility inspected by the fire department is the first step.  The inspectors will look for potential hazards that might cause a fire.   This is referred to as “pre-incident planning.”

Credits and Debits.  Fire officials will likely suggest that Facility Managers view facility hazards as an accountant views a financial statement.  In other words, for every credit, there must be a debit.  In facility management, for every hazard that can occur, there must be an operating procedure in place to address it.

Escape.  In an emergency, building users may not know the fastest and safest escape routes.  Fire department officials can help Facility Managers develop an effective “egress plan,” considering obstructions that might slow or prevent a quick, safe exit.

Drills.  When was the last time your building conducted an official fire or emergency drill?  Fire department experts can help Facility Managers with the planning of the drill, and be on hand when it is conducted.  “Adults learn by doing,” says Don Schmidt, a risk consultant. “The more actual practice people have [on dealing with an emergency], the better prepared they will be.”

Warning Systems.  In case of an emergency, tenants may look for a warning device to notify others.  For instance, when there is a fire in the building.  While there may be local regulations as to where these devices must be installed, fire officials will likely tell Facility Managers to make sure they are present, easily accessible, and that building users are aware of their location.

Coordination. Knowing who in the facility will coordinate the response in advance, is critical.  “If you don’t coordinate in advance, there may be a delay,” warns Schmidt.  “It may be seconds, it may be minutes, but there is a delay.  Coordinating in advance will enable the incident commander to implement the best decisions as quickly as possible.”

Finally, fire officials will likely suggest that a written preparedness plan be put in writing and shared with building owners and investors. Once approved, it becomes written policy, giving Facility Managers and their staff the authority to carry out the plan in the event of an emergency.


Put Service by Medallion to work for you. For more information on this topic or help with any building cleaning and operating need, contact a Service By Medallion Business Solutions Specialist at (650) 625-1010.

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