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A key activity in business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) planning is a disaster recovery facilities assessment. This physical site assessment goes through an extensive checklist of building elements, such as power and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), and identifies situations in which a risk may be present.
This may be as simple as identifying a fire extinguisher that needs recharging, or as complex as replacing an HVAC system. But if you've never performed a physical
site assessment before, it can be difficult to know where to start.
In this guide on disaster recovery facilities, learn what should be covered in a disaster recovery facilities assessment, how to perform one and then download our free disaster recovery template to help you conduct a physical site assessment. You'll also learn what areas should be covered in an assessment, and key building components to analyze.
DISASTER RECOVERY TEMPLATE FOR CONDUCTING A PHYSICAL SITE ASSESSEMENT: TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you're planning a disaster recovery site assessment, coordinate it with building management (if your firm is a tenant) or facilities management (if the building is your own). Review your objectives for the assessment with these organizations before starting. And review your checklist -- if you have one -- with building management/facilities management to ensure that you are covering all the bases. If possible, ask the building staff for any assessments they conducted or have on file. These may help save you time, unless the data is more than a year old.
The following section highlights key building components to analyze.
Environmental health and safety: These areas ensure that the building is free of any dangerous or hazardous materials, is as clean as possible from a health perspective, and is a safe place for employees to work.
- Waste removal
- Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) regulations
- Hazardous material (HAZMAT) procedures
- Building cleanliness, such as routine cleaning (restrooms, common areas) and special situations (dust control and hygiene)
Mechanical systems: These systems and associated activities are key parts of the building infrastructure. They help provide a healthy work environment regardless of the weather and time of year, and ensure that the critical building systems are maintained in normal working order.
- Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R): includes indoor air quality, temperature and humidity control
- Preventative maintenance (scheduled activities)
- Predictive maintenance (special tests to predict when maintenance will be needed)
- Elevator maintenance
Power systems: These systems ensure that the electrical power needed by the building and its occupants is clean, uninterrupted and always available.
- Commercial power (electrical substations and proximity to building, power grids, switchgear)
- Emergency power systems (uninterruptible power supply [UPS] systems, standby generators, lightning protection, bonding and grounding)
- Specialized power systems (solar and wind)
Building systems: Building management systems provide operational oversight and coordination of multiple internal building systems, such as HVAC, power and physical security.
- Building automation systems that manage multiple functions
- Building monitoring systems (sensors, actuators, control elements)
- Security and locks
- Access control systems (proximity cards, biometric systems)
- Perimeter and interior protection systems (CCTV cameras)
Life/Safety systems: Protection of building occupants from unplanned events means the provision of fire protection systems, signage and specialized plans for evacuations, fire drills, etc.
- Sprinkler systems
- Smoke/fire detection systems
- Fire extinguishers (gaseous extinguishers [e.g., CO2], FM-200 [replacement for Halon]
- Fire safety plans
- Evacuation plans
Space management: Work areas and working conditions (lighting, ergonomics and floor layouts) must also be addressed, and there are several functions in a typical building that address this important issue.
- Floors, walls and ceilings
- Office space layout
- Furniture placement and systems
- Fire resistant materials
In the U.S., the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) is the professional organization that deals with the facilities management profession. It issues standards and
guidance, conducts research, and provides professional accreditation for FM professionals. It is an excellent resource for conducting any kind of facility analysis.
A careful assessment of building infrastructures and management systems is an important part of an overall BC/DR program. Download our free disaster template to help you get started in conducting a building site assessment. Simply use the checklist, and, if possible, share it with your facilities management and/or building operational and maintenance staff so they can assist you in gathering the data you desire.
About this author: Paul Kirvan, CISA, CSSP, FBCI, CBCP, has more than 20 years experience in business continuity management as a consultant, author and educator. He is also secretary of the Business Continuity Institute USA Chapter.