Are You Ready? Emergency Preparedness for Commercial Fuel Sites

hurricane

Are You Ready? Emergency Preparedness for Commercial Fuel Sites

As a fuel source for critical systems and emergency services, it’s imperative that commercial fuel sites have a disaster recovery plan for hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Every site should create a framework that constantly assesses and mitigates the potential for unnecessary risk during emergency scenarios.

Key Goals during an Emergency or Disaster

  • Maximize the pool of available/accessible fuel supply in the area.
  • Maintain supply chain and fuel management system integrity leading up to and during threat level events.
  • Do a preliminary supply chain analysis and continue to update the supply chain operating procedure each year.
  • Do a preliminary evaluation on the ability of the site to seamlessly manage fuel systems and issues during a threat level event.
  • Ensure that the plan ties into a platform for reporting and management so business continuity is maintained at the highest level possible. The platform must have archival capabilities and be able to be backed up offsite.

Identification of Key Risks

The most obvious risk to improper fuel supply and fuel management processes is that operations can be severely hampered in a critical time. Fuel management disruptions can cause significant administrative hardship in terms of accounting and reporting…not to mention the ever-present risk of theft. Both issues can force “impulse” purchasing and “incomplete” accounting.

A general list of the key threats is as follows:

  • Fuel Run Outs
  • Fuel runs out for critical operations at Anytown sites forcing alternative measures
  • Fuel at area stations runs out forcing Anytown to curb usage and seek out of area fuels
  • Fuel runs out for generators and support causing operational issues • Fuel management systems are “scuttled” during the emergency causing administrative nightmares
  • Improper planning forces the site to purchase significantly higher priced fuel

What is a Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan?

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) – sometimes referred to as a business continuity plan (BCP) or business process contingency plan (BPCP) – is a comprehensive statement of consistent actions to be taken before, during and after a disaster. Just as a disaster is an event that makes the continuation of normal functions impossible, a disaster recovery plan consists of the precautions taken so that the effects of a disaster will be minimized and the organization will be able to either maintain or quickly resume fueling operations.

What kinds of disasters can impact us?

There are several types of disasters that can adversely affect fueling operations.

  • Natural Disasters: Flood, Fire, Hurricane, Earthquake, Tornado, etc.
  • Man-Made Disasters: Accidents, System Failure, Supply and Site Disruptions, Site Burglary, etc. 

These events directly impact a community’s fuel needs not only on a business level but also more importantly for first responders, fire, police, ambulance, rescue, etc. In order to maintain critical county municipal services and fuel supply for so many others, it is imperative to have a Plan.

What are my risks if I do not have a plan already in place?

Fuel management disruptions can cause significant administrative hardship in terms of accounting and reporting…not to mention the ever-present risk of theft.

Both issues can force “impulse” purchasing and “incomplete” accounting.

When fuel runs out, businesses are forced to curb usage and look for alternative area fuel locations. Often the fuel prices are higher, and it is much more difficult to keep account of how much fuel is being purchased and by whom which can result in theft. Also not having a Plan ready and tested can result in potential economic loss, disruptions to operations, organizational instability, loss of confidence in your business by the community, stressful and often inconsistent decision-making during an event, and a higher risk of legal liability.

When do I need to develop a plan?

Yesterday. It really is extremely important to have a plan in place. How would you prepare a plan? To establish mitigation strategies to prevent – to the highest level – threats from severely impact your business’ fuel platform, you would undergo an assessment of existing facilities and operational systems. The assessment will cover the entire fuel supply chain and the operating processes and procedures for all fueling activities. You would look at your day-to-day usage of fuel and how your sites are run. A subsidiary effort should also be initiated regarding fuel site compliance.