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Stormy Weather Ahead for UK Resilience Resources?

27 May 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

There can be few who can continue to deny the existence of climate change.

Higher sea levels, regular flooding, the frequency of extreme weather events and sea temperature rises are all unequivocal evidential quality examples of the phenomena – we can argue over whether these are a part of the earth’s natural cycle or the result of the increasing amounts of carbon which mankind pushes into the atmosphere every day – but climate change is here to stay, it will get worse and we need to take a long term strategic view of how it will be managed.

A recent news story set me thinking - the raging forest fire on the loose in the State of Alberta, Canada – an area containing the third largest oil reserves on the planet. 88,000 residents of Fort McMurray nearest the conflagration were ordered to evacuate their homes and businesses as the fire advanced through their town.

The blaze covered over 39 square miles. Unseasonably high temperatures, high winds and abnormally dry ground and drought conditions combined to make the area a tinderbox – a state of emergency was been declared. An evacuation on this scale is a major trial for emergency services. Injuries and loss of life were thankfully small, which is a credit to the planning authorities of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency and their response to the incident.

However, property loss was high and oil rich Alberta companies chose to close down their pipelines quit operations.

My point is this - resilience and emergency planning are critical in our world where disruptions and unexpected crisis are never far away...but it is at its best when corporate planning dovetails with local planning - and local planning dovetails with national (and even international) planning.


We were good - are we now?

Following 9/11, the UK developed a well staffed and rapidly developing emergency planning capability at local and regional level. A new career path of emergency planning officer emerged and university courses abounded. The question that has to be asked is just how much has our resilience been adversely affected by recent austerity reductions?

Certainly emergency planning staff numbers have been reduced, certainly police officer numbers have fallen significantly and certainly fire and rescue resources and readiness levels have dropped as funding has fallen. In addition, armed forces numbers have also fallen hugely over the past two years and there is little or no training or equipment provision to allow them to assist during disaster.


National audit

The cavalry is no longer equipped or trained to ride over the horizon to save the day.

It is now high time to demand an audit of national resilience, readiness and response capabilities.

Could we cope with a requirement to immediately evacuate 88,000 people? How would we feed such numbers? Could we close down refineries and depots without causing chaos?

Have the recent reductions damaged the national planning and resilience capability at a time when risks are rising and the population is growing?

Where will the reinforcements come from in the event of a cataclysmic event in the UK such as that seen in Alberta?

Hard questions needing hard answers. SERIFM will address such issues.



SERIFM is spearheaded by TWinFM in conjunction with TriTectus Strategic Resilience Limited. SERIFM aims to create more resilient organisations and assist the FM community to share threat data and exploit new technology. It is the intention of SERIFM to help enable this sharing. Security and Resilience In Facilities Management will provide the ideal platform to help create a highly informed customer, to demand the highest quality imagery from visual surveillance systems, to inform the supply chain of the need for resilience and to highlight new technologies, procedures and tactics as they are deployed and as experience is gained from their use. SERIFM is a not-for-profit group dedicated to leading the fight back against crime and strengthening resilience at a time of reduced national resources.

SERIFM’S inaugural conference will set the UK’s strategic resilience picture as seen through the eyes of the Metropolitan Police, the Cabinet Office, academia and the security services.  The date and location to be advised.

Article written by Jeff Little | Published 27 May 2016


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