Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > Things That Go Bump In The Night – part three

Things That Go Bump In The Night – part three

In crisis or incident management there is a lot that can go wrong. One outfit that I worked for had a crisis management manual that was spilling over into a third 4 inch thick ring binder. Yes it was well researched and worked well for desktop exercises, but how are you going to work with that when you are stuck out in the car park in the wet and the wind trying to sort out which page you need?

One of the big problems with thinking about what disaster might befall you is that you go down the input specification route; you plan for all sorts of things that might happen when many of them have the same two or three results and they are that you can’t use all or part of the site, or all or part of its services.

My contention is that it doesn’t matter that much why you have the problem. That just gives you a clue as to how long you have the problem for, for example if you have a gas leak outside the site and you can’t get in (or get evacuated) you can’t use the building for a few hours, but if you have a fire it will be a few days disruption to, possibly, having to move to new premises. In both cases it is the loss of use that needs priority.

All of the functional groups within the building will have their own continuity plans and the FM team need to be aware of these and support as necessary, but it is the FM team that will take most of the early actions in managing the incident.

In these pages you’ll find stories of some of the major incidents that I’ve been involved with. In The Day The Town Stood Still it was a pretty routine day when something came up, and that then escalated to a point where the improbable coincidence of a second problem brought us close to the edge of a disaster. If the team at the second site had not been effective in dealing with the flash fire, the gridlock caused by the first problem preventing the Fire Brigade from getting through might have seen us lose a building. There is a very fine line between OK and Oh S**t! sometimes.

Does fortune play a part? Maybe it does; there are times when timing or nature will be on your side, but mostly it is thinking, training and practice that will make the difference. If you’ve thought things through, planned and prepared through getting people trained and have drilled them then most of the risks are mitigated or reduced.

But to finish off this series with a final foul up, I’ll tell you about the one that really got me into FM. At the time I headed up the Operational side of a logistics business and the property maintenance team worked for HR. We had a problem with the flashing that covered the join between the wall and roof of the warehouse above the goods inwards doors and a decent repair was budgeted for.

I arrived one morning to find a queue of lorries outside. The cause was obvious; scaffolding completely blocked access to goods in and our operations were paralysed. It cost us dearly, but was easy to put right. The cause was poor communication; no-one had bothered to consider that we needed to work through the repairs. Facilities came under my control from then on so that there would be no more such incidents. and led to me making the move to FM myself.




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