PlanB Consulting

Floods and fires……..business as usual

Happy new year to all readers and I hope you had a good break. I suspect back to work for all of us and the Christmas break now seems a distant memory. In the UK the news over the Christmas period seems to be dominated by rain and yet more rain, inevitably followed by flooding. Transport seems one of the items of infrastructure which was hit and the train line to the South west of England was closed for a number of days.

The flooding both by river and the sea in Stonehaven just South of Aberdeen seemed particularly bad, with a number of businesses destroyed and houses flooded.

One of the news items which particularly caught my eye was the interview with a fish processer whose factory was on the seafront in Stonehavon whose premises had been all but destroyed in a storm and he had to lay off all his staff as he had nowhere for them to work.

I compared the flooding in the UK with the bush fires in Australia and I thought we should exchange some of their heat for some of our cold and rain. I was joking with some friends last night that one of our friends Davy Gardner has taken his family to see his in-laws in Australia and as we were sitting indoors because it was cold and wet he and his family would be sitting indoors to because it was too hot!

One of the other items I picked up on the news, was the effect the bush fires were having on the animals both farmed and wild. The news had an interview with a farmer who was about to slaughter his flock of 12,000 sheep as they had nothing to eat. The only thing that was stopping him carrying out the slaughter was that he was waiting for the insurance person to arrive…..

Last year flooding was discussed quite frequently but I always think there are new lessons to be learnt.

  1. The flooding in the South West of the UK showed that it is not just roads which can be affected by flooding and that it can affect railways as well. If this was a busy commuter line into a major city and your staff mainly come in to work by train you may have to put your business continuity plans into place to deal with the lack of staff.
  2. Large corporations have much more resources and by their size, especially if they are multi-sited, can survive loss of a site. The Stonehaven flooding and the laying off of the fish processing staff showed how, the smaller the business the more likely an incident is going to have a major effect on them. Incidents such as flooding are going to have the greatest effect on organisations which have one premises, perhaps don’t have much cash reserves, inadequate insurance and no business continuity plan. The more resilient our business, even without a business continuity plan the more likely they are going to survive. So if you are a small business, then it’s imperative to have a business continuity plan in place.
  3. Have you taken animals into consideration when you develop you plans? Emergency planners are mostly well aware that when they open a rest centre people will turn up with their household pets and so have taken them into account within their plans. Most business except farms and zoos do not have animals on the premises unless they a take part in ‘International take your dog to work day’ (on the June 21, 2013)! Perhaps your business continuity plans should take into account if any members of your staff have guide dogs. Pets may also have a bearing on the hours staff may be able to work or stay on site after a disaster as they may have to get home to feed a pet.
  4. Lastly the lesson for waiting for the insurance person arriving before slaughtering your animals is an important one. Following an incident it is worth liaising very closely with your insurance company on what they will and won’t pay for. Before making major or even modest expenditure, check with insurance whether they will allow it to be claimed under insurance. Insurance policies don’t automatically cover all expenses and you may be spending money unnecessarily which is needed for the recovery of the organisation.

About Charlie Maclean-Bristol

Charlie Maclean-Bristol is one of the Founders and Directors of PlanB Consulting. He is also the Training Director of Business Continuity Training Ltd., a UK-based training provider accredited by the Business Continuity Institute. Charlie is a former Business Continuity Institute board member and one of the very few Fellows of both the Emergency Planning Society and the Business Continuity Institute.

A former Infantry Captain in the British Army, Charlie held several emergency planning, business continuity and crisis management positions within the energy and utility industry before founding PlanB Consulting in 2007. Over the past twelve years, Charlie has delivered business continuity consultancy in 6 of the worlds 7 continents, frequently providing full business continuity roll-outs to organisations of all sizes and in all sectors.

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