As the Chief Executive of the Herts Chamber reminded members at a recent Chamber Lunch – the Buncefield oil terminal fire in December 2005 should remind all businesses that they should review and update their business continuity plans and facilities.

The following are a series of ‘quick-hit’ solutions that can be implemented to improve the preparedness of businesses to respond to a disaster or major incident.


  • Implement Evacuation procedures for all staff (and test after implementation). These procedures should include identification of an primary assembly area (normally defined in Fire procedures) and a secondary muster point (normally a local hotel or similar facility where staff can wait in comfort until decisions are made on immediate response activities). 
  • Implement Notification procedures to be used both during working hours and outside (in conjunction with the building management service) so that senior management are informed of an incident promptly.
  • Staff Contacts : Ensure senior staff have the home addresses and phone numbers of all their staff at home (e.g. on Cascade chart). Also ensure that all staff have the home contact numbers for key directors.
  • Staff Listing : Keep a staff listing at a secure off-site location (e.g. bank or another branch of , including addresses, phone numbers, pager numbers (if used) and details of next of kin. Ensure this is updated monthly.
  • Client List : Keep client contact names, addresses, phone and fax numbers (and account details if appropriate) at a secure off-site location. Ensure this is updated monthly.
  • Supplier List : Keep a contact list of suppliers in an off-site location with addresses, phone and fax numbers and account details.
  • Key Documents : Keep critical/unique documents in a fire proof safe (or a safety deposit box if not required for day to day business).
  • Systems Data : Take regular back-ups of key systems data and software. Keep these off-site at a location far enough away from the main office to ensure that they can always be accessed. Check availability of 24 hour access to these records. Senior IT management to keep details of retrieval procedures.
  • Office Documents : Implement a clear desk policy for unattended desks/out of hours.
  • Determine and document in advance what key Recovery Priorities of the office would be. This will ensure all management know their immediate objectives in an emergency.
  • Ensure effective security of offices. If this includes CCTV, ensure that the quality of tapes is regularly checked and that at least 30 days tapes are retained in a cycle.
  • Identify suppliers of key equipment and get letters of agreement that they will supply replacement units within specified time periods after an incidents (e.g. for photocopiers, fax machines, stationery, letterheads etc).
  • Arrange in advance with all insurers for a single loss adjuster to handle all major claims. Develop a relationship with the loss adjuster so they understand our business (The loss adjuster is a key source of experience following a disaster).
  • Check insurance policies to ensure that adequate cover is provided, including for Increased Cost of Working following a disaster.
  • Keep a spare set of keys to critical fire safes/cabinets in off-site storage (e.g. bank safety deposit box).
  • Maintain a record of the location and contents of critical safes etc so they can be identified and opened quickly if access to a building is limited after an incident.
  • Establish and train a Crisis Management Team to control recovery in the event of a disaster. Ensure this team are involved in development of plans so they fully understand them (and their limitations !).
  • Check whether your Public Relations agency can provide crisis management services – e.g. management of emergency press releases, despatch of client communications, handling media enquiries. Keep contact details of the agency with all Directors.
  • Ensure plans of buildings/floors occupied are stored securely off-site. Update these at least every 6 months.
  • Alternative Sources of Equipment : Identify whether other company offices can supply critical equipment or services in an emergency.
  • Identify local hotels or conference facilities which may be able to provide meeting rooms, phones, fax etc and act as meeting point for evacuated staff.


Further information on business continuity planning can be found at or contact Integral Continuity Ltd by email on

John Halfacre MBCI, Director, Integral Continuity Ltd