Fire Disaster Recovery Plan

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Introduction

Banks are one of the earliest adopters of Information Technology in the current world of business. As the nature of bank's business is highly critical, the federal government had mandated that the banks must develop, maintain and carry out disaster recovery plans. This paper explores banking industry's disaster recovery needs and the value of good planning in this nature. The views discussed in this paper are as part of a study of high-rise fire which broke out in a bank in Los Angeles in the year 1988. This paper critically examines the extent of damaged caused, recovery from fire and effective planning behind it.

Extent of damage caused by fire

Fire disaster, when it comes, no matter how small or wide-spread, causes enormous amount of damage. Most of such damage is not recoverable and can include both loss of life and property. The fire which broke out in headquarters of First Interstate Bank led to a very dramatic and tragic situation. The fire had spread floor after the floor destroying computers and trading-room securities. The trading room, where high value transactions (amounting close of billions of dollars) were handled daily, was destroyed beyond any recognizition. The personal computer systems, workstations, mini-computers and microcomputers could not withstand gigantic temperatures of 2,000 Fahrenheit and got burnt to full. The bank's security vault, which was stationed at a height of 11th floor, also got dismantled because of severe water damage. The ground floor of the building was the house of main downtown branch of Los Angeles and the entire floor was devastated due to water damages. Two thousand employees of the bank had to be moved out the building immediately and relocated to another place as soon as possible to start recovery of business. The telephone systems stood non-functional within minutes of breaking of fire. When the communication ceased, it created lot of other issues in the whole recovery process too.

Although, First Interstate bank was saved from the brutality of life loss, yet it had to incur a lot of destitution of data and property at the data center.

How did the bank recover from fire?

The bank had been concerned about two main issues when a disaster may strike. First was safety of lives of people and second was creating an immunity jacket for safety and rejuvenation of all business functions. To deal with these two issues, bank had been working on a robust plan to conquer the situation and stabilize itself. It had created two plans: An Emergency Preparedness Plan and A Business Resumption Plan.

When the fire broke out in the building on 4th May, the bank first made sure that the life safety issues are to be resolved. It quickly evacuated the office building, which was occupied by more than 2000 professionals.

Two years back, the bank had formed a consulting team of six professionals to take care of Business Resumption Plan with utmost priority. This team helped other personnel in the bank to develop their own resumption plan as per their own and the respective team's needs. What to cover while resumption, how to do it, the recovery sites, people involved, dependencies, recovery scenarios, all critical business functions and cases were group together to come up with backup and recovery milestones. Over a period of two years, professionals worked closely with each other and employed specialized tools and applications to ensure security of data in case of disasters.

The bank created a "hot site" for data processing apart from their main California office. Many scenarios were formulated and their responses customized as needed. Logistics is a critical concern in this regard and the bank had well predicted the need for it. It had intelligently identified a...
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