Business Impact of Wildfires – Firestormers on Firestorms

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Business Impact of Wildfires

By Firestorm CEO Harry Rhulen

Yellowstone FireRim Fire Information Incident Statics

  • Acres Burned: 201,894 (315 square miles)
  • Structures Threatened: 4,500
  • Containment: 32%
  • Residences Destroyed: 11
  • Fire Start Date: August 17, 2013
  • Commercial Property Destroyed: 3
  • Fire Cause: Under Investigation
  • Outbuildings Destroyed: 97
  • Cost to date: $47 million Injuries: 4
  • Total Personnel: 4,931

Wildfire is a huge vulnerability in much of the western part of the US.  Individual preparedness as compared to municipal preparedness are two very different subjects.  Loss of power lines, both transmission and distribution lines, are common in large fires.  Loss of power often means loss of other services, such as electrically driven pumps and local water distribution.

As with other natural disasters, fire can very often have a long onset and imminent period.  Very often our clients have sufficient time to implement plans. 

In the situation with San Diego’s  water supply, water doesn’t burn.  Yes, wildfire presents a contamination risk, but most reservoirs have a buffer zone around them.  Runoff control to prevent siltation is very important.  One can assume that with 85% of their water coming from one source, San Diego has some planning in place.  If not, they should get on the Predict issues right now.

Wildfires, while they can be quite large, are local disasters.  Food and bottled water are generally not an issue.  You can drive away from a fire (and should). 

Fire will rarely create a critical supply chain issue.  Wildfires move quickly and require fuel.  That means that they rarely impact commercial areas or cities – they impact residential communities. Tourism in this particular area however, has taken a large hit.

Houses and landscaping burn nicely, so does all that beautiful open space that everyone loves.

DRPDRA“While we must plan for power and water shortages as a part of any disaster plan, and possibly losing a complete building, we must absolutely plan on key employees not being available,” said Firestorm Principal Jack Boyles in San Diego.  

“This is just like communicable/pandemic illness planning:  everything else may be fine, systems, facilities, etc…, but many employees can’t make it into work due to wildfires.  The same may apply to a strategic vendor – not enough employees to get the work out.”

Jack went on to say, “In 2007 during the San Diego wildfires, the company I worked for had to close the headquarters building because there were so many different wildfires burning around San Diego. One was fairly close to headquarters and many people were being evacuated  – some were sadly losing their homes to the fires.  The company did not have full staff for about 4 to 5 days.  This poses a big question I try to help answer with my clients – how do you invoke your recovery plan, if you have no people?”

Employers however do need alternative locations if offices and work locations – including employees who telecommute – are in the evacuated radius.  Employees need a resource.  If employees have children whose school is within the radius, this displacement contingency needs to be planned for in advance.  Employers can and should set the standard for preparedness.

As per INCIWEB, An Evacuation Warning has been issued for all residences north of Bull Creek Road (Forest Road 2S02), Bondurant Mine Road, Texas Hill Road, and Wampum Hill. Residents living north of Old Yosemite Road (Forest Road 2S01) are under a Mandatory Evacuation. Highway 120 at the Yosemite National Park boundary west to Buck Meadows has been evacuated. Evacuation centers are at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora and at the Greeley Hill Community Center.

To help you help your employees, please download our book, Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America as an ebook for free.

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