Facility Dude

What to do after an earthquake

By Kate Donnelly
Aug 27, 2014

Maintenance, Industry News

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On Aug 24, Northern California was rocked by one of the largest earthquakes in the region's recent history. Clocking in at a 6.0 on the Richter scale according to Yahoo! News, the quake disrupted lives and caused expensive property damage.

What to do after an earthquake Once the aftershock has passed and facility managers are left with the task of picking up the pieces, sometimes literally. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed after a quake, here are some things to keep in mind to reduce rebuilding costs and keep things running smoothly.

Assessing risk

According to disaster aversion company EQUECAT, the earthquake that struck California caused an estimated $1 billion in property damage. For a facility manager, this is a nightmare scenario. To avoid a similarly disastrous situation, step one is to do a thorough risk assessment. As FacilitiesNet reported, special attention should be paid to more critical systems, such as boilers and HVAC systems. Damage to these systems can not only be the most costly to repair, but can also affect operation of other dependent systems, leading to a combination of problems.

One tool that can facilitate this process greatly is a CMMS. The data-tracking capability afforded by such a system can help FMs collect valuable data on damage to equipment, and provide convenient and safe electronic storage so your facility can coordinate with FEMA as needed.

Coordinating logistics

Once you have a picture of what's been damaged and what needs to be repaired, the next step is to coordinate the logistics of the relief and repair efforts. This can range from tracking inventory to coordinating repair jobs with maintenance staff. In a large-scale disaster like an earthquake, keeping a close eye on resources, both physical and personnel-based, is crucial. Avoiding the chaos that could potentially be caused by overlaps in work orders or redundancies in inventory orders could save valuable time and money.

As a disaster response plan from FEMA pointed out, communication is the most essential aspect of this facet of the operation. Passing information between maintenance staff, tenants and facility managers is the first priority. Fortunately, a CMMS can assist here as well. Centralized information on things such as outstanding work orders can be accessed by anyone who needs that data, and can be updated in real time to keep all relevant parties in the loop.

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