Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Building

Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Building MFS Construction

For every new build project, safety is a top priority. The structure must be designed to withstand both everyday stresses as well as those that exceed average conditions, such as tornadoes, earthquakes, and fires.

If a disaster strikes, the success of your recovery efforts hinges on the effectiveness and execution of your disaster preparation plan.

But what does this involve?

Here’s how to create a disaster recovery plan for your building.

Ante Disaster Period

A key facet of disaster recovery planning involves risk management and assessment. This is often a lengthy and complex planning period that is necessary to obtain insurance and ensure the safety of the building occupants.

Typically, it involves the following steps:

  • Risk Identification – You must identify the chief risks in order to control them. But the types of disaster risks you may face likely hinge on several factors, such as the location and the type of construction project. While hurricanes aren’t a major concern for new builds in California, wildfires and earthquakes are. Ways you can identify common construction industry risks include:
    • Physical inspection

    • Checklists

    • Flow charts

    • Fault trees

According to FEMA’s National Disaster Recovery Framework, some of the most common risks you should account for include natural weather-related hazards, technological and accidental hazards, and terrorist threats.

  • Analysis – After you have identified a risk, the next task is to gauge the potentially destructive impact it could have on the building. Project managers must consider disasters that are low-cost high-frequency losses as well as those that cause high-cost low-frequency losses.

  • Risk control – The next task is to implement the proper measures—physical, structural, and communal—to mitigate the threat a potential disaster poses on the building. At the very least, the new build should align with fire codes, which tend to account for the most common risks in that particular area.

  • Nominate a design coordinator – A design coordinator will be tasked with the responsibility of designing a disaster recovery plan and then monitoring compliance. They’re expected to:
    • Set inspections checks for emergency equipment and building escape routes

    • Document the checks, inspections, and maintenance work

    • Liaise with local fire departments

    • Ensure that people working on the building and those that will eventually occupy it are trained and prepared for a disaster

    • Verify that emergency equipment, signs, and protection equipment are visible

Post-Disaster Period

After a disaster has struck, it’s also vital to have a post-disaster recovery plan in place to mitigate losses. Disasters tend to lead to disorder. But if you have a plan in place, it could help cut through the noise, enabling you to act decisively.

What does that look like? As with pre-disaster planning, it begins with analysis:

  • The assessment – Once a disaster has struck, your first task is to determine how much damage it caused, and how that will impact operations. Power lines may be down, roadways blocked, people injured, and emergency responders overwhelmed. For the building itself, it’s imperative to determine the extent of the damage to the site—both apparent and beneath the surface. From there, the goal is to re-establish communication channels.

  • Recovery mobilization – After you have verified that the area is safe to work on, you should begin work post-haste. For this, you must consider the types of equipment needed, how that equipment will be transported, the availability of resources, and (for uncompleted projects) whether the existing structures can be worked upon or need to be demolished.

  • Customer management – Although this may seem like an afterthought, construction companies must consider and address the customer’s needs. Providing aid and support demonstrates that you value the long-term relationship.

  • Evaluation – There’s only so much planning you can do for a natural disaster. Quite often, the planning is theoretical. As a result, some parts of it may have been effective while other aspects were not. After the restoration process is underway, a construction manager should evaluate the successes and failures of the disaster recovery plan. From there, they can make the necessary tweaks so that they’ll be even more prepared should disaster strike a second time.

Disaster Planning with MFS Construction

Most disasters strike suddenly, with little warning.

Disaster planning can help you protect the worksite, its structure, and its future occupants, as well as your employees. If planned properly, it’s an invaluable resource that can guide you through the calamity.

At MFS Construction, disaster planning is an essential part of our design and construction process. It informs how we plan and carry out every project.

If you want to learn more, reach out today for a consultation.


FEMA. National Disaster Recovery Framework.