We are always researching and keeping up to date on changes and improvements in the industry. We came upon the following eNewsletter issued by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction.
This is a copy of the eNewsletter from the ICRC which covers the ICLR and Standards Council of Canada release report that recommends a new standard in response to high-wind damage to Canadian homes. It includes a brief primer on government disaster assistance in Canada and an article by Conservation Authorities. “On the front lines reducing flood risk in Ontario” and general facts about Conservation Authorities and their front-line role in flood risk reduction and mitigation.
As posted on https://oaem.ca/featured/planning-for-a-different-working-relationship/
There’s no doubt the commercial landscape has changed. Industries and businesses are under tremendous pressure. Shutting down operations for a few weeks or even a few days is simply not an option.
Today, disaster recovery and restoration mean it’s imperative we work quickly and closely with our clients to reduce downtime or avoid it altogether. Insurance contractors need to offer flexible mitigation planning and scheduling to respond to the needs of their clients.
Our aim is to get a business back to normal as quickly as possible. To do this we often work directly with a company’s employees in the planning phase. That planning often starts even before disaster strikes. We encourage companies to take precautions beforehand to reduce the impact of any potential disaster. We give them a checklist.
Pre-disaster planning is paramount to ensuring the quickest, safest and most cost-effective restoration work. No one wants to spend money on pre-planning. I get that. Yet being proactive is better than taking a bigger financial hit from a disaster later.
A lesson learned from the Fort McMurry Fire
The wildfire that started southwest of Fort McMurray, Alta., in May 2016 showed how vitally important pre-planning can be for the restoration industry and the people directly affected. Almost 90,000 people had to evacuate the community, making it the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta history. Destroyed were 2,400 homes and buildings, and the damage ran into the billions of dollars, the costliest disaster in Canadian history.
Due to a lack of planning, certain response crews left the area almost as quickly as they arrived when they realized they weren’t prepared for the danger of working in that hostile environment. They weren’t prepared to handle the heavy toxic metals released into the environment by the fire.
Expertise is also the name of the game
We’re realizing that expertise in the restoration industry is everything. Knowledge and experience are often missing in restoration efforts, especially in less populous regions. At Access Restoration Services (ARS), our highly qualified, specialized operations managers can be anywhere in the world within hours. Their expertise is of tremendous benefit in recovery efforts in sparsely-populated communities.
Local communities may not always need emergency vehicles. But they do need direction and leadership. Experience and knowledge in crucial situations can dramatically improve the speed and effectiveness of getting properties back to their original condition and people back on track.
ARS is a proud leader in disaster mitigation and property restoration. The company provides restoration services for water, fire and storm damage. ARS has its head office in Toronto and has six other locations throughout Ontario. It also has offices in Calgary and Fort Lauderdale and is expanding into British Columbia and the East Coast.
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH A TOP CANADIAN RESTORATION COMPANY – ARS
Fires, floods, and tornadoes -disaster can strike at any time. And while an emergency preparedness plan can go a long way towards mitigating the impact, sometimes even the best-laid plans can’t prevent damage to a site. Enter ARS – Access Restoration Services.
Founded in 1959 as a general contracting company with a commitment to doing good work, ARS has evolved to become Ontario’s leading disaster mitigation and restoration company.
From fire or water damage to natural disasters and biohazardous materials, ARS provides a comprehensive range of property restoration services to industrial, commercial and institutional clients. Because of the company’s extensive experience in the field, they have a special focus on complex and technically challenging projects.
With the primary goal of minimizing business interruption, ARS designs and carries out complete restoration solutions, starting at day one with damage and safety assessment, and carrying through to complete restoration.
When it comes to restoration, Nathan Normoyle, VP of National Operations at ARS, really has seen it all. We spoke with him about the most common winter disasters, and the most unusual projects ARS has encountered. From futuristic poultry to a natural disaster that had North America holding its breath, these projects are not your typical day at the office.
Fire and Ice
“There are a number of things that the winter season has an impact on,” explains Normoyle. “The frequency of fires and smoke damage increases as it’s the heating season.” From gas burning heaters to wood stoves, the prevalence of heating equipment being used during the colder months leads to more fires. But it’s not just heaters that cause winter fires. “As we approach Christmas time, it’s not just people in houses that put up Christmas trees, but also businesses,” Normoyle explains. “We see a drastic increase in fires that are resulting from Christmas trees or the associated electrical setup for Christmas trees and other decorations.”
Fires aren’t the only disasters that multiply when the temperatures drop. Frozen pipes are another common winter worry. Says Normoyle, “Plumbing doesn’t like cold weather, so if it isn’t insulated properly, or let’s say the heat source is down for a day in a building or a home, that increases the frequency of frozen pipes, which causes significant water damage.”
While fire, smoke and water damage are the most common restoration projects that ARS faces, we wanted to know what their most unusual cases were. And they did not disappoint.
Birds of a Feather
No business is safe from the threat of fire, and that includes poultry farms. But when the poultry is state of the art, the restoration crew needs to tread as lightly as a feather.
Recently, ARS was called to a chicken hatchery that had suffered extensive fire and smoke damage. But it was no ordinary poultry facility. “These are considered the perfect chicken,” says Normoyle, “So we had to work around these genetically perfect birds to ensure that the facility was able to continue operating, and that we didn’t cause damage to the stock with our restoration methods.”
This was no small feat.
“Anyone who owns a bird knows that if you leave a window open and there’s a cold draft, that’s enough to kill a bird,” explains Normoyle. “So it’s a very delicate environment to work in.”
Not only was the environment a delicate one, but because the birds in question were particularly valuable stock, extra precautions had to be taken. “The facility was considered hermetically sealed,” says Normoyle, “So the crew was walking around in hazmat suits, in amongst maybe 20 or 30 thousand of these perfect chickens. That’s definitely one that we don’t see every day.”
Because of the delicate nature of the project, restoration took nearly 5 months. But the result was happy chickens, and a happy customer. “It was a successful project and the client left very happy, with minimal business interruption, which was the goal,” says Normoyle. “So it was a win-win.”
One Explosion, 12 Floors, 250,000 Square Feet
In 2017, the hydro vault of a commercial office building exploded — ironically, due to flooding. ARS was called in to handle the fallout. “Basically, the underground pathways and electrical rooms of the building were filled with water due to flooding above on the street level,” explains Normoyle, “and that caused a severe explosion, which blew up and set on fire the hydro vault and the wiring that runs from the hydro vault into the underground of the building.”
Like the wick on a stick of dynamite, the fire traveled along the wiring, filling the building’s 12 floors with toxic electrical smoke.
“There were several thousand people who worked there,” says Normoyle. “So several thousand workstations. If you can imagine: 2000 desks, computers, and all the office equipment. And we had to move the whole building into a temporary facility to allow it to continue to operate.”
That’s exactly what ARS did. In order to minimize their client’s loss of revenue, the crew relocated all 250,000 square feet of workspace into temporary facilities for the duration of the restoration.
“It was a very technically complicated project,” says Normoyle. “It lasted approximately 15 months and at the same time we were on a very very tight deadline.”
A City in Flames and a Nation Looking On
At the beginning of May, 2016, wildfires swept through Fort McMurray, forcing the largest evacuation in Alberta’s history, as approximately 88,000 people fled their homes. Arriving on day 8 of the evacuation, ARS was the first restoration company on the ground in Fort McMurray.
“We were on site while the fires were still burning in the city,” recalls Normoyle. “Eight days after the initial evacuation, we were on the ground with approximately 400 staff; we were responsible for restoring a large portion of the infrastructure for the hospitality industry.”
This included nine different hotels and a number of commercial and industrial buildings throughout the city. ARS had done many fire and smoke restoration projects before, but nothing quite like this.
“Because the city was evacuated, there was no fuel, there was no food, and very limited accommodations,” says Normoyle. “So we took over a full hotel that was empty; there was no service, no staff, nothing, and our staff were housed in that building.”
In order to feed the crew, ARS had to hire an off-site catering company who set up a field kitchen 100 kilometres outside of town, and trucked meals in three times a day.
Fuel was also an issue. “We brought our own fuel supply in the form of fuel trailers with battery pumps,” explains Normoyle. “So every time a vehicle needed fuel, you would have to get out, connect the cable to a battery, and basically pump fuel out of this temporary storage tank into the truck. And we did that for the better part of 30 days until the evacuation order was lifted.”
The job wasn’t an easy one, but for ARS, it was well worth it. “We were able to make a significant contribution to allow the city to get back to its normal operations,” says Normoyle, “so it was a unique and rewarding experience for us as a company.”
Article posted on Trinity Power website: https://www.trinitypower.com/restoration-company-stories/
On April 27th, Nathan Normoyle was interviewed by Bethan Moorcraft for Insurance Business Magazine
Here is her article:
The first things that spring to mind when commercial organisations think flood are: damage and destruction. They don’t necessarily think about the possible flow of ongoing disruption, displaced staff and supply chain woes.
When flood strikes, business interruption losses can quite literally come raining down. Getting back up and running is hard because of the mass inundation of water, which is why the expertise of restoration companies like Access Restoration Services (ARS) are so vital.
“The number one challenge for commercial clients after a loss event like a flood is normally business interruption, which unfortunately is a topic that’s overlooked by many,” said Nathan Normoyle, vice president of National Operations at ARS Canada.
“Large commercial organizations might have 500-1,000 employees in one location,” he added. “If the whole workforce or a majority of staff are misplaced because of a flood event, or unable to work under their normal conditions, it creates a huge logistical challenge for business continuity. Business interruption losses can cost the company and the insurer multiples of what the actual physical damage to the property might cost.”
In January, business interruption was flagged up as by far the most significant concern among risk managers in Canada, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2018. Experts partly attribute this to the fact that post-loss restoration operations (from fire, flood, windstorm etc.) are becoming more and more challenging.
Insurers, claims adjusters and post-loss restorers are coming up against new things like highly technical machines, complex supply chains, and even environmentally-friendly building products that can be difficult to repair after a loss. That’s where the management skills and technical expertise of restoration companies really take centre stage.
“At ARS, we manage the business interruption process for our clients and customers,” Normoyle told Insurance Business. “When we visit an impacted property, we assess three key things: the extent of the damage, whether damage can be contained and commercial operations can continue, and the most rational step to avoid business interruption and minimize cost to both the business and the insurance company.
“We will do everything in our power to keep a company operating. That might include shutting off a damaged area and moving operations to another section. If a site is completely demolished or critically damaged making it impossible and unsafe to maintain business operations, we will suggest alternatives and even construct temporary facilities on or off-site to get commercial organizations back up and running as quickly as possible.”
In her May 15th article in the Insurance Business Magazine, Alicja Grzadkowska interviewed our CEO, Joe Gagliano regarding how ARS is proactive in changing the demographics of this industry sector.
Here is Alicja’s article:
Construction has, for many years, been a male-dominated sector – but one company is working hard to change that.
Access Restoration Services (ARS), a Canadian build and restoration company specializing in emergency response for damage stemming from natural disasters, has announced its sponsorship of the Women in Insurance event taking place today in Toronto. However, its executives are also doing a lot in-house to encourage the advancement of women in the insurance space.
“We have a lot of women that work within our office and we’re trying to show that we’re promoting the Women in Insurance event,” said Joseph Gagliano, president of ARS. “By promoting that, we’re also showing our own employees that we believe in what we preach throughout the office – that when women succeed, we all succeed. That’s our motto here.”
Other initiatives the restoration company has implemented under its roof include taking tangible steps to create a safe working environment for women through programs that teach all employees what that kind of environment looks like. Supporting female employees as they ascend the career ladder is another effort that ARS has made, by building a talent pool to move women into executive positions. Skills development courses are also offered to all employees to ensure they’re continuing to build on an education that will help them move forward.
And that’s not all the company is doing in this field. While there’s many women working in insurance, a significant number occupy administrative positions. ARS has a specific way to address that issue.
“In the construction business, women are generally designated within the office and not in the field,” explained Gagliano. “We mandate a program where we actually ask the PCs and our field people to bring out their assistants so they can actually see the environments, see what’s in the fieldwork.”
If the assistants like the work, there’s a program that helps them transition to the PC group, where there’s more money to be made and economic agency to be gained.
Restoration is a worthwhile sector for anyone with an interest in insurance to consider. ARS itself has grown exponentially, Gagliano tells Insurance Business, with a staff of 200 that keeps on adding new employees. Its geographic reach is also expanding – a few years ago, ARS ventured outside of Ontario to provide its services after the Fort McMurray wildfires.
“Since then, we haven’t left. We’re now in Alberta and we’re still in the city of Fort McMurray,” said Gagliano. “And then with all the natural disasters, we were actually called by the insurers to go down to Florida as well, and into Texas.” In fact, ARS has travelled as far south as Aruba to help clients rebuild after the hurricanes.
As natural disasters become more intense and frequent, the demand for restoration work is only going to go up. After the recent ice storm that hit Ontario, the company’s professionals were on the ground, unplugging drains that were clogged by ice and then hit with intense rain, which caused interior water damage to a lot of commercial buildings. Putting in drying equipment so mould wouldn’t form and repairing that water damage was also on ARS’s to-do list.
The prognosis for future weather catastrophes isn’t optimistic, based on the intensity of those seen just in the past year. More people are affected now, too, with the recent wind storm impacting a third of Ontario, which is rare because of the province’s sheer size.
“The weather event itself is much stronger than we’ve ever seen in the past,” said Gagliano. “We had ice storms – never as heavy and dense as the one we just had – and then the rains we’re getting are heavier and there’s more wind with them.”
Managing a team or a team member? Give yourself a few minutes each morning to chat your team. This goes a long way to create a positive workflow environment. Get everyone smiling and connecting briefly. Morning hellos also give you an opportunity to discuss what others are working on for the day. Sharing your goals for the day. This will also encourage others to achieve theirs. Don’t spend too much time at the water cooler, but a quick walk around the office to say hello to the team can set the tone and pace for the rest of the day.
Look After Your To-Do List
Get into the routine of noting the most critical tasks in your job and manage that list daily. So before you tackle today’s schedule, make sure to complete the previous day’s schedule. Situations will arise throughout the day that sometimes takes more time to finish. Don’t give up! If you don’t get it all done, you can use this to ask for more time or assistance if necessary. Knowing when you need help is just as important as completing your tasks. Managing a proper list every morning can help you stay on top of everything and keep you from falling behind.
Knowing When You Work Best
Your peak performance hours of the day may vary as everyone is different, but knowing when you do your best work is vital. Make the client phone calls during your peak morning hours, when you know your energy level is higher. If you’re responsible for one priority task each day, schedule yourself time to complete that task first thing during your peak.
We all know how the day tends to go if you oversleep or get to work late. You feel rushed and sometimes flustered. Maybe you forgot your coffee or skipped breakfast. These types of mornings tend to affect the rest of your day. Knowing that you have the control to set up your morning routine for a more productive day is critical. Establishing a morning routine, with specific tasks for managing your first 90 minutes, can significantly impact your effectiveness as well as inspire the productivity of those around you.