Continual Growth. Continual Service.
Over the past several decades, awareness of the vulnerabilities and threats that people and businesses face on a daily basis has increased exponentially. Access to media, starting with proliferation of television, then the invention of the personal computer and the Internet has changed the way people look at the world. Today, it is rare that any incident occurs where someone is not there with a smart phone to record and upload whatever happened, instantly.
For many Americans, September 11, 2001 was a day which changed their entire perception of vulnerability and risk. Being protected on two sides by oceans, the United States has historically been insulated from events which are more common on the European and Asian continents. When terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center, there was an awakening. The 9/11 commission which was formed after these events went on to document that:
“85% of the critical infrastructure is in the private sector”, and “Preparedness is not a luxury, but a cost of doing business.”
What many people do not know is that the United States Secret Service had detailed documents discussing how airplanes might be used as tools of terrorism. Similarly, several US agencies had documented the tremendous exposure that New Orleans had to hurricane risk, prior to the horrific outcome of Hurricane Katrina. Very few exposures are unknowable. One may not know when they will occur, but the possibility is usually predictable.
Firestorm is a crisis management/risk planning firm that was created based on the concept that almost all threats and vulnerabilities can be identified, and therefore, either mitigated or eliminated. The company’s products and services assist senior leadership in the assessment, evaluation and control of strategic risk. Corporate founders Suzanne Loughlin, Jim Satterfield and Harry Rhulen have built a company which helps its clients before, during and after a crisis.
All three Firestorm founders spent a good portion of their careers as executives working for public companies in the insurance sector. Jim Satterfield, an engineer by training, Suzanne Loughlin and Harry Rhulen, both attorneys, all learned to manage risk in the traditional insurance model. Insurance attempts to restore the insured back to their original condition, after an occurrence, strictly through monetary means. Clearly, this model does not account for damage to reputation, individuals and other intangibles.
In November of 2005, Jim Satterfield came to the realization that if the vulnerabilities and threats that face any organization were identifiable, then the outcome could be significantly improved through planning, training, education and proper management. From this thought was the start of Firestorm.
February 20 – February 24, 2006 Firestorm had its first meeting at the Red Roof Inn at the Denver International Airport. This early meeting focused on developing the concepts of business continuity in order to help organizations better plan for the exposures which they faced. These meetings resulted in the creation of several core platforms which are still in use by Firestorm today. These platforms, which can be found throughout this site include:
1. 5-common failures in every disaster
3. Firestorm transforms crisis into value
4. Every Crisis is a human crisis
“PREDICT.PLAN.PERFORM.® in addition to describing the company’s proprietary approach, has become its branding statement and a key differentiator. Over the years, Firestorm developed the management team, staff, infrastructure and credibility which enabled the company to contract with numerous, high profile clients.
Early engagements include:
A public company whose primary product is spontaneously combustible. Firestorm did a vulnerability threat assessment identified multiple issues including an aggressive stock shorting campaign, insider leaks, pollution issues, and arrange of direct exposures. Management decided to not immediately address these threats. Six months later the client called and said “everything Firestorm predicted occurred” and asked for our help.
A national retailer whose board was concerned about the potential impact a pandemic would have on the retailer profitability and share price. Firestorm developed an interim plan to cover the transition to a more comprehensive plan covering their hundreds of stores, global distribution and manufacturing, hundreds of thousands of employees, and millions of customers.
At the request of President Charles Steger, Firestorm principals and staff provided the crisis management and media support to Virginia Tech after the shootings in 2007.
Firestorm clients include Fortune 500 companies such as First American, Parker Hannifin, International Paper and one of the nation’s largest retailers. Firestorm has strategic relationships with several AmLaw 200 law firms and a “Big 4” accounting firm. These firms include Blank Rome, Epstein Becker & Green, Snell & Wilmer and KPMG. –Learn more about our Engagements–
In the process of working for many corporations, Firestorm came to understand that “every crisis is a human crisis” and that in order for an organization to perform at its highest level, everyone in that organization must understand their part and be prepared. The concept of building disaster ready people is one that is at the heart of what Firestorm does. The Firestorm founders wrote a book called Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America. This book is designed specifically to help families go through the process of analyzing the vulnerabilities and threats that they face, and developing a plan to protect their home, their loved ones and knowing what to do in the event of an emergency. Firestorm realized early on when helping corporations that “family trumps work every time” and therefore it was essential that employees have a disaster plan at home. If your employees don’t show up it does not matter how good the corporate crisis management plans are.
In 2006, Firestorm launched The Firestorm Expert Council™ , an advisory group made up of specialists from various disciplines, professions and industries. The Expert Council is designed to bring subject matter knowledge and strategic expertise to Firestorm and its clients. The members of the Expert Council lend credibility and skills to the work which Firestorm performs, both through their direct involvement and the weight of their reputations.
The Firestorm Expert Council, comprised of over 100 specialists, delivers subject-matter knowledge and strategic expertise to clients. Its members include Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré (U.S. Army, retired), who led the military response efforts after Hurricane Katrina; former U.S. Surgeons General Dr. C. Everett Koop and Dr. David Satcher; former New York Port Authority Executive Director Bob Boyle, who returned at the governor’s request to guide the organization in the wake of 9/11; and nationally recognized experts in fields including data security, executive protection and workplace violence.
The Firestorm team of experts, each providing an independent perspective, will produce faster, more accurate results. Firestorm methodology and Expert Council members generate unique insights and assist our clients in developing the best solutions to their complex problems.
Firestorm has developed many tools which empower people to manage risk and be prepared for the crises which invariably befall almost every organization. Very few companies have the pleasure of not ever having to deal with a significant challenge. Most of these issues are negative. Sometimes they are a result of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.
Crises can, however, also result from human-based problems such as workplace violence, dishonesty or negligence. Organizations can also encounter a crisis as a result of what would ordinarily be perceived as positive events, such as merger and acquisition, unexpected growth, or other issues which put tremendous stress on corporate resources. Often in these situations, whether positive or negative in nature, it is the unprepared response which creates the next crisis. The Firestorm process is designed to help people, and the organizations that they manage, achieve the best outcome.
In 2008, in response to growing demand, Firestorm launched the Firestorm Solutions Board™ – An experienced pool of business-continuity, program-management and subject-matter experts with proven performance in developing business-continuity programs and plans. These are the Firestorm “tactical” experts. The Solutions Board is comprised of specialists who participate in Firestorm projects. The Solutions board is designed to bring subject matter knowledge and expertise to Firestorm and its clients.
A Specialist on the Firestorm Solutions Board may be asked to participate in consulting projects for individual clients, or take part in other assignments where their expertise and/or credibility, will assist in or improve the outcome. Firestorm endeavors to match each Specialist to projects based upon the Specialist’s own area of expertise and the client’s needs. Firestorm selects specific individuals for each project team in order to optimize the skills required for each individual client.
Firestorm identified that “all disasters are local” and that a local presence was needed to better serve clients and expand assistance where needed most. In 2009, Firestorm Franchising LLC, was launched to create a network of Firestorm Principals (owners) located across the United States to be the face of Firestorm. These Firestorm principals actively engage clients within their communities and work with clients across the United States.
In 2009 and 2010, Firestorm began development of a series of proprietary software tools to assess the current levels of planning and programs. These include business continuity, workplace violence, social media risk, and structural risk. The Firestorm Business Continuity Self-Assessment offers a diagnostic tool that provides an in-depth evaluation of an organization’s preparedness. It measures current performance levels, assesses your preparedness against a model business continuity program, and identifies the most cost-effective improvements. The Firestorm Self-Assessment establishes a baseline, and sets up process improvement metrics to ensure the best possible return on the resources invested in business continuity.
In 2012, Firestorm expanded the crisis management assistance by aligning with insurance companies, brokers, associations, and attorneys to offer to provide Crisis Response / Management Panels with resources for their clients that include:
- Vulnerability/Threat Assessment
- Business Impact Analysis
These Firestorm resources better position strategic partner client management teams to identify vulnerabilities and exposures, develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing issues, and include training such as media communication and national coverage response. Only in this way will clients maximize the outcome for everyone. Firestorm empowers clients to develop and focus on the appropriate plans, strategies, and communications. In a crisis, your clients should identify:
- What is known?
- What are you concerned about?
- What is the response plan?
- What is the monitoring plan?
- What are the metrics?
In 2012, Firestorm launched the Crisis Coach® Program. Through the Crisis Coach® Program Firestorm leadership supports management and an organization before, during, and after a crisis through a 12+ month plan with a monthly focus and custom deliverables that align with client needs. In many cases, the services are performed by a Firestorm Principal.
The Crisis Coach® program is designed to provide direct access and one-on-one interaction to support management priorities and decisions. The program is tailored to the client needs and adjusted as client needs direct. The program can be used to develop plans on a cost effective basis to optimize client cash flow. The program also provides client access to expertise to serve as staff augmentation to support existing staff.