Do-It-Yourself Auxiliary Power Check
By Peter Ashen
During past disasters, major power outages were a common problem and often caught many business owners unprepared. Heres a
look at some problems which occurred during the Loma Prieta and the Northridge earthquakes.
Candlestick Park was hosting the World Series and 65,000 fans were in attendance. When the quake hit and the power went out, stadium officials discovered the public address system was not hooked up to its auxiliary power system. They couldnt communicate with the fans when they needed to most.
The security force of a major facility discovered the rack charger for their walkie-talkies was hard wired into their electrical system, not to the auxiliary power side. They couldnt recharge their radios.
In our San Francisco Red Cross building, when the power failed, I waited for the auxiliary generator to kick in. It didn't. I went down to the basement and tried the manual start. Nothing happened. I sent a message out over ham radio that the Red Cross needed help- auxiliary-generator not working. Fortunately an amateur radio man working on his boat, with his toolbox handy, heard the call and came to our building in 15 minutes. He quickly determined the battery was dead. With a battery from a ARC vehicle we jump started it and it worked fine during the emergency. Check your auxiliary-generator regularly.
An emergency services unit discovered they had electrical garage doors in their new rental offices with no manual override. They couldn't get their vehicles out of the garage until the power came back. Do you have electrical gates, doors and ramps without manual override? In security doors, when the power fails, is the door locked or unlocked?
How long will your generator run? When was your fuel supply tested? Do you have a contract vendor to resupply? Remember in an emergency, everyone is going to want aux generator fuel at the same time. Perhaps telephones will be out. Can you send a runner to a fuel supplier and get on their delivery list? Where would they go?
What in your building is on auxiliary-power? Is it automatic/manual intercom, public address system, telephone system, security systems, radio system, battery chargers, computers, or elevators? Do you know where there are auxiliary-power outlets so you can hook up special emergency equipment? In an emergency, do you think your copy machine is important?
Do you know which equipment, computers, telephones, copy machines, public address systems, fire/burglar alarms, etc., have a reset button which must be activated after a power loss?
Learn from others mistakes. Check your auxiliary power system now in order to be prepared later.
Peter Ashen is a Red Cross Volunteer Disaster Administrator, in San Francisco, Calif.
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