The 5-Phase Model – When Crisis Plans Are Activated

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In the majority of organizations analyzed, Firestorm has found five common failures in a disaster or crisis. 

The failure to:

  1. Control Critical Supply Chain. It is important to identify the internal and external dependencies of critical services or products.
  2. Train Employees for Work and Home. Firestorm has found that across most companies 95% of employees do not have a plan at home. If employees do not have a clear strategy for their families, an emergency or disaster can force them to choose between family and work. Family will always trump work.
  3. Identify and Monitor all Threats and Risks. Knowing the threats an organization will face enables it to manage the results and respond to those threats. Firestorm’s process identifies the potential threats, both natural and manmade.
  4. Conduct Exercises and Update Plans. Training converts written plans into actionable ones. By test exercising plans and their procedures, the problems or weaknesses identified will stimulate appropriate changes.
  5. Develop a Crisis Communications Plan. Effective communications is a crucial element in emergency/crisis management and should assume a central role in disaster preparedness. Proper communications establishes confidence in the ability of an organization to deal with a crisis and to bring about a satisfactory conclusion.


The Firestorm 5-phase Activation Model defines the actions to be taken in the event crisis management/recovery plans are activated


Preaction Phase –

Develop a set of actions prior to any incident or crisis that can include preparation and decisions that will mitigate or minimize the impact of any event. In some cases, there may be an “imminent” event, such as an anticipated major winter storm. The Preaction Phase of each plan includes activities for imminent events, as well as general updates and program training and awareness.     

Onset Phase –

Consider actions to be taken during the initial stages of an event to stabilize the situation. This phase is focused on ensuring the event does not escalate without a call to action. It includes detecting the incident, initial response, as well as any necessary immediate communications.

Impact Assessment Phase –

This phase includes conducting a preliminary damage assessment of the situation to determine the extent of the impact of event on operations. The initial assessment activities may be concurrent with many of the activities in the Onset Phase. The assessment process must continue as the incident or crisis evolves.  An in-depth damage assessment will follow, as needed.

Response & Recovery Phase –

Activation of critical plans -This phase begins recovery activities, which include implementing alternate strategies to complete business functions, enacting longer-term policies and procedures, and continuing to issue communications as required. In this phase, the primary facility or the alternate work site has been prepared for use. Business units are called together to activate specific business recovery plans to deliver key business functions. Actions are adjusted, as necessary, after the situational assessment.  

Post Crisis Phase –

Review all team actions and make recommendations for improvements where needed. Discuss and document lessons learned. Update plans to reflect changes made.


5 phases of activation


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