The LWF Blog

Facilities Management | What if? Business continuity essentials

February 20, 2014 3:07 pm

With so many current and real issues to concern us on a day to day basis, we’re encouraged not to worry about ‘What ifs’.  However, in the case of your business and facilities, it is not just important to consider the ‘what ifs’, it is an essential business survival tool.

Considering the unforeseen is an essential part of risk anticipation and mitigation. It’s a straightforward process in which you begin with a ‘What if…’ question and attempt to look at the practical issues that would arise from that circumstance taking place.

What if your office was destroyed by fire?

Would you be able to continue to function? Would you have your data backed up at an off-site facility? Would you be able to replace essential IT equipment, or already have a back-up system at another location?

The process will help to clarify the most essential parts of your business operation and highlight areas where further protection may be required. It may be that it is worth considering additional fire suppression systems to protect essential or non-replaceable parts of the business.

All the information gained should be fed into your fire risk assessment, which is a living document to be added to and adapted as circumstances change.

What if an essential supplier was closed due to fire?

Another ‘What if’ consideration is that of a fire at an external premises, for example an essential supplier. If you could not function without that supplier, it is important to either look into their disaster recovery plans or to find a potential alternative supplier that could step in, should a ‘What if’ situation become a reality.

What if one of your facilities was seriously damaged by fire?

How soon could you have it back up and running? Do you have adequate insurance and fire protection and suppression systems? Is the fire compartmentation already in place sufficient to ensure that fire would not spread throughout the whole building, if it were to take hold in one area?

Is business continuity planning/disaster recovery a legal requirement?

For some businesses, it is a legal requirement to consider these questions and provide appropriate action plans. The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 affects all core services, for example the NHS and the Fire Service as what the act states are ‘Category 1’ responders. However, ‘Category 2’ responders are those services which support the main framework.

For most private businesses, business continuity is not a legal requirement, but the consideration of how soon your facilities can be up and running again should be an important priority.

While this blog has presented many more questions than answers, it illustrates a process that provides answers which could become vital, should the worst happen.

Disaster planning and recovery, business continuity and emergency plans can be completed with the assistance of qualified fire engineers. LWF have been working with their clients for over 25 years to promote and provide fire safe design and planning. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact Peter Gyere on  or 020 8668 8663.

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