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Author:Villeneuve, Gary
Position::SAFETY FIRST - Workplace safety

THERE IS A SAYING in business continuity and emergency management: "People are No. 1." That is no platitude. People are every organization's most valuable resource. Protecting those individuals--and their families--from the threat of fire is an important part of any business continuity management and emergency preparedness program.

The effectiveness of an organization's response to fire emergencies depends on planning, training, and exercises. Using the "All Hazards" approach is important in that planning. However, if developed plans have deficiencies and the organization does not conduct exercises, no one will know those weaknesses are there. A first step in building a fire preparedness plan is identifying key elements. Awareness and training increase the expertise and knowledge needed to ready an organization for a fire-based event. Fire extinguishers, detection and suppression systems, a good relationship with local fire departments, and hazard insurance also are important.

The Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) International Professional Practices for Business Continuity Management define the requirements to develop and implement the organization's plan for response to emergency situations that may impact safety of the entity's employees, visitors, or other assets. The organization's emergency response plan should document how it will respond to emergencies, including fire events, in a coordinated, timely, and effective manner to address life safety and stabilization of emergency situations until the arrival of trained or external first responders.

The Professional Practices also provide the framework to identify, develop, communicate, and exercise a crisis communications plan to address how communications will be handled by an organization before, during, and after an event. The plan is developed collaboratively with the organization's public information and internal information resources--where they exist--to ensure consistency of the entity's communications. The plan should address the need for effective and timely communication between the organization and all the stakeholders impacted by an event or involved during the response and recovery efforts.

What are the right prevention messages and delivery vehicles in case of a fire emergency? Organizations should develop and exercise their emergency response plans, such as evacuation procedures, to help protect personnel from harm. Emergency response plans should contain: contact...

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