Preparing a Disaster Recovery Plan (Church)

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1 Preparing a Disaster Recovery Plan (Church) In the event of a serious fire, a church may be required to close during the rebuilding period. The rebuilding process can take up to two years or more. Heritage listed buildings or those where compliance with local planning regulations or fire prevention legislation invariably cause delays, are likely to have this period extended even further. What is the anticipated result of such a prolonged closure? 1. Parishioners worship elsewhere, 2. Current ministries cannot continue and new ministries cannot be commenced, 3. The community can lose confidence in the church, and 4. Staff and ministry leaders may seek alternative ministry options elsewhere. Remember that serious interruption may be caused by natural disasters other than fire, including storm damage, floods, or terrorism. Terrorist attacks and pandemic threats have raised the awareness for the business community to consider some form of contingency planning in the event of a disaster. The support of the church can be vital to the health of the community at these times. Without a contingency plan the church may not be in a position to provide support at this time. The First Step On the basis that prevention is better than cure, it is preferable not to suffer a significant loss in the first place. To this end, the church should carry out a risk assessment to identify areas which present a hazard. The best people to carry out this exercise are your employees and ministry leaders as they will have first-hand knowledge of the premises and work processes. Having identified the risk areas the degree of risk presented can then be assessed for each area. Many identified risks can be reduced or controlled by adopting proactive loss reduction measures. Prepare the Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) Having carried out the Risk Assessment you will be aware of many risks that will have an impact upon your objectives. However, a Disaster Recovery Plan should not focus on all areas of risk, but how you will carry on without critical buildings, people or whole functional business areas. How do you work around the loss of your administration offices, your I.T. infrastructure, your Hall or other public areas including your Church building? You can now prepare plans that can be put into effect if an adverse risk does occur. The church should appoint a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) Coordinator and a Deputy Coordinator. These people will be responsible for implementing the plan. There should also be a media liaison person to handle any adverse media attention and to communicate the positive aspects of the recovery program. The nominated people should: be senior staff or board members, and have appropriate authority to ensure decisions are implemented immediately.

2 The main purpose of the DRP is to enable you to: continue to operate as normally as possible, progress back to normal working with as short a delay as possible, cause the least possible inconvenience to staff, members and visitors, and minimise the risk of accident, injury or ill health to customers and staff. The DRP comprises two parts: The first part is the Emergency Plan and the second part is the Recovery Plan. Emergency Plan This relates to the first 24 hours following any emergency event such as: fire flood terrorist alert/explosion serious injury or illness to members, visitors or staff. Emergency telephone numbers In a time of crisis a list of people/organisations that you need to contact will be an invaluable tool. The list of emergency telephone numbers and a copy of your Disaster Recovery Plan should be kept with the Disaster Recovery Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator. A further copy should be kept at the church and with each of the church board members. A sample list is provided at the end of this document. Emergency Plan Checklist The following checklist covers many of the points to be considered when formulating the Emergency Plan. a) Does the church have an Emergency Evacuation procedure? Who sounds the fire alarm system? Does the church have a fire warden? Where is the emergency assembly point? Who telephones the emergency services? Who inspects the buildings to ensure that the evacuation is complete? b) What happens if someone is injured in the loss or during the evacuation? Is anyone trained in First Aid? Where are the First Aid kits kept? Where will casualties be treated? Counselling to whom/by whom? c) Where can we go in the short term? After initial evacuation, where will staff and visitors congregate? keep in mind that the time period involved could be lengthy What communication systems are still available? Where are the toilet facilities? Is there a supply of food and drink available? d) Who do we need to tell about the loss? How do we keep our staff, volunteers, members and visitors informed of progress? How do we inform our suppliers? Can we still hire our facilities out? If not, who do we contact to inform them the facilities are no longer available? e) What steps need to be taken to protect the church against further losses? What security arrangements need to be implemented? Is fencing required? Is temporary lighting needed? Is a 24-hour guard necessary? Vehicle parking arrangements f) Will the loss result in an insurance claim? How do we notify our insurance company and what information will they need? Contact at insurance company/broker Location, nature, time of occurrence Details of circumstances Extent of damage Current situation

3 Recovery Plan This is the second part of the DRP. The first priority of a recovery plan is to identify the extent of the loss or damage and what is necessary for the church to temporarily return to normal ministries or service. The Recovery Plan is designed to come into action after the full extent of the disaster is known. Following an emergency, the immediate requirements of the church are as follows: Essential Staff and Leaders Premises Telephone / communication equipment Furniture Plant and machinery/equipment Stationery / IT equipment. a) Premises What kind of building is required? Does the church need a hall, house or office? Is there room for a temporary building to be located in the church grounds? Preferred location how do the parishioners travel to church? Will transport be required if the alternative premises are too far from the normal location? Any specialist features required? Does the church need meeting rooms, kitchen facilities or a Pastor s residence? Who does the church contact to hire or lease alternative premises? Real Estate, local council or schools? c) Once temporary measures are established to continue service the Long Term Recovery phase should commence. This involves obtaining repair and clean up quotations and beginning to source replacement equipment. The Long Term Recovery phase should be carried out with the guidance and knowledge of your Insurance Company. Communication It is important for staff, volunteers and members to be kept informed of the progress towards full recovery. This continued involvement is not only good public relations practice but will help to preserve relationships. Communication can be by many means, such as: Mail Telephone calls Fax messages Text messages Website Effective communication is important for other reasons: Reassure members and the community in general that the church is still there Let s people know how to contact you Remember to keep your suppliers informed. Suppliers will need to know where to deliver goods and also changes in normal deliveries of supplies. Finally keep Australia Post informed so they will know where to deliver mail. b) Furniture, Plant, Machinery and Equipment What furniture is needed? Does the church need chairs, desks, storage, lighting, refrigeration? Is this equipment available new or second-hand and how long may it take for it to be delivered? Is computer equipment required? Where are the church back up records kept and who is capable of getting the network functioning once again?

4 Distribution and Storage of the Disaster Recovery Plan The DRP document should be easily accessible and easy to follow. It need not be a bulky document you should, in fact, aim for a fairly short document. Full copies of the document should be kept with: DRP Coordinator with copies held on and off site Deputy DRP Coordinator with copies held on and off the site On site in a fireproof safe With each member of the DRP team. The plan must be kept up to date. It is important that the DRP is a living document. The plan should be reviewed regularly to: ensure that any new activities are taken into account ensure that suppliers details are accurate and current take into account any changes in personnel. This material is for information purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice. Suggestions, checklists or action plans herein are not intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. Ansvar Insurance Limited 2011

5 Emergency s Immediate Contacts (within first 24 hours) Fire local station Ambulance local service Police local station Insurance Broker / Company Utilities Electricity / Gas / Water Council Church Head Office Secondary Contacts (first 24 to 48 hours) Glazier Security Guards Roofing/Building Contractor Local Media Electrician / Emergency Power Additional Contacts (solutions to long term interruption) Alternative Premises Local Council Local School Temporary Buildings Rental Agencies Suppliers Sound Equipment Catering / Coffee Supplies Temporary Furnishings Stationary Communication Telephones Post Office Internet Access / SMS

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