Independent Facilities Management Consultant Based In London
Some years ago, a huge underground fire broke out in the tunnels beneath the Kingsway in the Holborn area, this happened very quickly and within a short space of time all our office were evacuated on the orders of the fire authority, the power went off as did all our communications. As the Facilities Manager and Emergency controller for our BCP team I stayed in the offices for three days during this time I secured the offices, I kept the Management up to date who in turn kept all our hundreds of staff informed.
Outside was a scene from Hollywood, hundreds of engineers set up camp in the main square, they had shower units, hot food and medical. The underground fire was being fed by gas supplies and cables burning, potholes were popping off by the intense heat. Firefighters came from all over the UK and the continent. During this time, I worked with I.T. and others to protect the systems, infrastructure and have ready the buildings ready when the power was restored- but you can’t just flick a switch. The buildings had to be powered off locally and all the plant isolated to reduce the likelihood of a surge and damage to awfully expensive servers etc.
We eventually got power back and re-opened the offices. It was my role to write a report on the incident, the damage, and what lessons we learnt from that scene.
The report identified we should look at the possibility of a outside source of power in the form of a generator. I was tasked to do this, and we eventually planned and worked on a project to update our LV panels so a generator could easily be connected. This was a huge success. From that scene we built a stronger and more unified BCP team, we understood the need of having to practise scenes often and they all had a huge success.
Running from the big fire we experienced and as mentioned I had to look at ways of connecting a generator to our buildings in the event of a power failure.
I set up a small team consisting of an electrical Consultant, I.T. A M&E Consultant and a Electrical Contractor. We held meetings to brainstorm the design, looked at suppliers. The first thing I did was to look at what power we were pulling, then I looked at the last 5-year electrical report and issued those to the Electrical consultant who gave me the data I could speak to a designer of the new LV main board and how we could connect this. The outcome was we needed to upgrade the sub mains, the earth and the many local Db boards before changing the main LV.
After many meetings we understood what was required and started the process of building a new LV panel, carrying out prep works to allow us to run new cables. I must add here this was all done during weekends and in a Listed building of high pedigree.
Then came the weekend of removing the old LV panel which looked like a bowl of spaghetti cables and installing the new panel. The two teams I had working on this over 48 hours nonstop. We did have some issues, but we had many answers too.
On the Sunday at 3 am we went live, and all the power was restored. At no time did the business suffer, our clients were unaware, the cost were controlled, and we were ready then to connect the generator to our systems. Our insurance company reduced their cost due to the new generator we installed.
During a critical refurbishment, Asbestos was found halfway through a critical schedule.
To avoid downtime and extra costs and a delayed program, I worked with the contractor and immediately took steps to inform the local council, protected the area and moved everyone off-site, turned all the plant off.
In the meantime, I liaised with the council and a firm of specialists to expedite the removal. We carried this out over that weekend, working through the days and nights, and completed it before the workmen arrived on Monday to continue working. All the compliance was handled by me and our contractor. The council remarked how well we responded and the actions we took.
During a project meeting and having read in detail the scope of works I was issued from the M&E Contractor a list of all products. After studying this I asked for more information on the three-way valves required for the AC system.
I asked what the cost breakdown was for these and requested they bring in some alternative valves for the next meeting.
This was provided and after asking if all these examples did the same thing, I decided on a valve that was 28k cheaper than the sample they wanted us to purchase.
The method is value engineering and if you feel comfortable in what you ask, the costs and alternatives great savings can be made.