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Fort McMurray Wildfire: The Importance of Emergency Preparedness in Property Management

By Sandra Zimmerman

Preparing in Advance for Emergencies and Natural DisastersThe recent devastating natural disaster in Fort McMurray Alberta has once again brought to light the critical importance of emergency preparedness — not only for the general population, but also for property management companies, who have a responsibility to help ensure the safety and well being of residents within their communities.


As our climate changes and population density increases, the likelihood of your communities being affected by natural disasters and other emergency situations also increases.  And the thing about such circumstances is that most often they take us completely by surprise. So the best thing you can do to minimize the potential impact on your business and the lives of your residents is to be prepared for anything.

That being said, here are some guidelines to help ensure that your property management staff is well equipped to handle the needs of your communities and lend whatever support they can — no matter what the situation.

Identify the potential risks

Depending on where your offices and properties are located, you may be more at risk for certain types of natural disasters, such as flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and wild fires. The first step in preparing an emergency/disaster preparedness plan is to identify all of the potential things that could go wrong so that you’ll be able to come up with an action plan for each one.

Develop a detailed plan for each scenario

Go through your list of potential risks and then create an action plan for dealing with each. For instance, should a natural disaster occur that shuts down the office, where will employees work? (i.e. another location, from home, etc.). The plan should include a list of who will handle various roles and tasks in each scenario as well as the contact information for key professionals who may be enlisted to help, such as maintenance personnel and service vendors.

Communicate these plans to everyone on your team

Your plan is only as good as the people who carry it out; so be sure that all the details you’ve drawn up are communicated to each member of your team. Everyone should know ahead of time what their role is in each scenario to avoid confusion in the event that an unexpected emergency arises.

Leverage technology

If your property management business is paper-based or uses a number of different applications for various tasks and your physical office is destroyed, there may be no way to recover your customer’s data and resume regular operations.

An end-to-end property management system that runs in a secure hosted environment can be accessed from anywhere and features redundant off-site data backups. That way even if your equipment is destroyed, your critical business data will still be safe and you can continue to serve the needs of your customers with minimal disruption.

Reassess your plans at least twice a year

Circumstances may have changed; you may have hired some new employees, or you may have forgotten to include potential scenarios in your original plan. It’s important to revisit your plan frequently so that any necessary changes can be made. Don’t forget to send out revised copies to your team any time the plan is updated.

Emergency Preparedness/Response Best Practice

We would like to take this opportunity to share how INFO-Tracker™ user FirstService Residential Alberta has responded promptly and effectively to the needs of the people living in its Fort McMurray communities — both through its website and social media.
Fort McMurray Wildfire – Owner Information
Insurance Information and Fort McMurray Wildfire Links
twitter.com/FSRAlberta

The entire Netintegrity Team would like to offer our empathy and support to all of those affected by the devastating wildfire in Fort McMurray.
Donate to Red Cross Canada
Supporters of Alberta Animal Rescues

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