Posted in Disaster Preparedness

Avoid Fertilizer-based bombs. Yuck.

Bombs are bad.

This is our final blog in a series about terrorism-related issues.

Our first post provided an overview of the threats of terrorism, including suggestions for to work with law enforcement to stop terrorist plots. Our second post explored the basics of counter-terrorism surveillance including CCTV systems and tips for spotting suspicious behavior.

Today’s post wraps up our series with thoughts about avoiding terrorist attacks by paying attention to the threat level for current terrorism risks, making your building a difficult target for attack, and suggestions for properly reporting suspicious activities. Perhaps our next blog series will focus on “canine satisfaction,” with topics such as “proper tummy rubbing,” or “optimal pig-ear chewing times.” A Dalmatian can hope…

Pay attention to the current “threat level

  • The Homeland Security Advisory System was established in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks. The threats range from “Low” to “Severe” and are intended to alert the public about the current estimated terrorist risks. Specific government actions are required for any given threat level to go into effect. I consider a “severe” threat to be when Whiskers decides to walk across my front lawn. When he does…the chase is on!
  • When the threat level is raised to the orange/high or red/severe levels, you should expand your surveillance efforts and take other security precautions. Threats might pertain to your particular building or one of your specific tenant’s business operations.

Make your building a less attractive target for terrorism

  • In July 2006, a plot by suicide bombers in the NYC commuter rail was revealed by law enforcement personnel, who stated that the perpetrators had already obtained detailed blueprints of the rail tunnels prior to the attack. Secure building blueprints which can be used to establish weak points for entering and destroying the structure. Limit blueprint availability online and train your property managers to follow proper procedures for releasing building information. Now if I can just find my schematics for the 2,000 sq. foot doghouse…
  • Pay special attention to tenants who work with or produce materials that could be used to make explosive devices and those that work in aviation-related fields or construction-related companies. For example, Canadian officials recently investigated an individual who purchased a large quantity of manure that is sometimes used to make fertilizer-based bombs. Work with tenants to ensure they follow safety and securing procedures, for both their intellectual and physical properties.

A fundamental way to prevent terrorist attacks is to properly report suspicious activity to stop attacks in the planning stages. In the RJ Westmore, Inc. surveillance blog, we talked about identifying suspicious activities but did not explore how to gather and report that activity to law enforcement:

  • Note the familiar “who, what, where, when and why,” which are vitally important to establish timelines for law enforcement so attacks can be thwarted.
  • Train your surveillance team to pay attention to details such as license plate information, nationality and physical-build characteristics, and clothing. I would say to include “species,” but dogs aren’t well known for acts of terrorism. We’re more about displaying acts of heroism.
  • Additional information can be found in our training program, where we provide RJ Westmore Training System clients with a “Terrorism Awareness Checklist.”

Thanks for reading our series about terrorism-related issues and what you can do as building owners and property managers to mitigate risks and work with authorities to prevent attacks. Remember that safety should always be a top priority!

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. RJ Westmore, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Evacuation Planning Vital to Tenant Safety

Do you know where emergency exits are located in your building?

We talk a lot about emergency planning and disasters. Today, we’re discussing the importance of keeping people safe by making sure they can get out of buildings quickly in case of emergencies.

It’s human nature to panic when disaster strikes. The result can be confusion, indecision and failure to react quickly. If, on the other hand, written procedures are followed, groups understand safety procedures and individuals are properly trained to take charge of the situation, evacuation can be swift, smooth and safe.

Let’s take a look at the necessary steps to ensure quick and thorough building evacuations:

  • The first step is to consider the type of emergency situation. For me, a big emergency would be to run low on pig ears. But that doesn’t warrant an evacuation.
    • In cases of fire, the primary objective is to clear the entire building as quickly as possible.
    • For tornadoes, a safer option might be to instruct people to congregate in a large room located on the first floor instead of meeting outside. As always, proper preparation and written procedures are essential.
    • Buying plenty of pig ears is always important.
    • Ensure there is a clear chain of command. At the dog park, we do this well. For non-canine emergencies, employees and tenants need to be willing to take direction from the people who are in charge and feel confident that building management has control of any and every situation.
    • Floor Wardens need to take charge and understand their responsibilities:
      • Know the proper evacuation routes and internal and external refuge areas.
      • Note any building occupants who need special assistance and assign someone to assist them.
      • Familiarize residents and employees with the location of alarm pull stations and (if they are properly trained how to use them), fire extinguishers.
      • Instruct employees not to use elevators during emergencies unless instructed to do so by emergency personnel.
      • Evacuate any pets that are in the building. Believe me. We don’t want to be left behind.
      • Designate which tenants or employees should shut off gas lines or other equipment. Advise them to fulfill these duties only if absolutely necessary.
      • Building occupants should be given up-to-date evacuation maps, along with safety handbooks.
      • Stairwells and hallways should be kept free of boxes and other impediments, including rawhide bones. Routinely investigate these areas and work with building occupants to determine if additional storage space is necessary so hallways are clear of clutter, to ensure easy emergency exit.
      • Pay special attention to signage. Do a walkthrough of the evacuation route with your entire safety team. Is the escape route clear? If the power is out, will back-up lights and clearly marked egress signs be visible?
      • Establish a secondary meeting area in case the designated space is not usable. In major disasters, the primary exterior safe refuge area (located at least 300 feet from the building) area(s) may be compromised. So plans should be made for a secondary external safe refuge area.

When disaster strikes, pre-planning, training and clear decisive action can help save human and K9 lives. For the latest, most effective, building-specific e-based emergency management training for your building, contact RJ Westmore. Our new Version 2.0 training system offers the best in emergency training, free color aerial photograph safe refuge evacuation maps and full automated and integrated features that make training 100% of your occupants or employees both realistic and cost effective.  Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.