It’s been a milestone year for FirstOnSite Restoration. From revitalizing essential services and businesses during the BC Wildfires to bringing order following the chaotic Windsor windstorms, the team has responded coast-to-coast helping commercial and residential clients recover from the unexpected.
“We’ve seen a lot this year, especially when it comes to natural events,” says Bill Fender, Senior Vice President of Commercial Properties with the company. “With weather patterns changing, disasters like wildfires, flooding, and extreme rainfalls are becoming the new normal.”
This fact is not lost on Canada’s property stakeholders. FirstOn Site leaders have observed property owners and managers becoming more and more aware of the risks to their properties and planning ahead for both recurring incidents and natural disasters alike.
“Today’s commercial real estate stakeholders are taking measures to be more prepared by undergoing upfront planning, practicing those plans consistently, and integrating those plans into an end-to-end solution so that all the necessary protocols and partners are in place,” notes Fender. “We’re seeing more and more of that recently because clients are realizing they aren’t as prepared as they thought they were.”
FirstOnSite has always been an advocate for emergency planning. It has rolled out disaster awareness training and planning services to its clients through its Priority Response Emergency Plan (PREP) program for businesses, which pairs clients with FirstOn Site professionals for collaborative planning sessions.
“Emergency planning is something we’ve been championing with our clients for years,” insists Fender. “Today, however, the pendulum is shifting. Where in the past we were the ones trying to get clients to think about pre-planning, clients are now reaching out to us to get those conversations started.”
2017 also drove home the importance of technology in the field. This was especially true for some of FirstOnSite more remote projects, where mobile technologies and cloud-based systems played a critical role in connecting teams across multiple sites, as well as tracking their progress and relaying vital information to stakeholders.
“In the past, we relied on phone calls and emails to keep everyone on track and that wasn’t always reliable. Now, we have the tools to send updates electronically and resources like our mobileCT tablet based technology and Customer Gateway App to share information in real time to stakeholders. In the end, it leads to everyone working more efficiently towards quickly mitigating losses and minimizing disruptions.”
Technology also took the spotlight during FirstOnSite’s work with the BC wildfires. Here, Fender and the team were tasked with managing indoor air quality issues for 130 critical commercial properties such as government offices, banks, grocery stores, and essential businesses, to help residents stay in their communities and function on a day-to-day basis.
“It was an unusual event,” he recalls. “We were on the ground in 24-hours and had to figure out our logistics on the fly when it came to working within a series of remote, sparsely populated communities over a very wide geographical location. That only emphasized the critical nature of communications and the need to have all those partnerships, plans, and communication protocols locked down so everyone was in the loop.”
No doubt, the BC Wildfires stand out as the most challenging and rewarding experiences in Canada for 2017. Still, ask the FirstOnSite team what they’re most proud of over the last year, and they’ll say it’s their success in demonstrating the true value of working with a restoration partner before, during, and after an event.
“That’s our real value to property managers – being a one-stop shop for clients anywhere in Canada, whether it’s a major metropolitan area or a remote location. Over this past year, we’ve been proud to show that due to our tight structure, we can provide that same level and standard of service in any community in Canada on a consistent basis,” says Fender.
As for what’s to come in 2018, he adds the company plans to continue bringing innovations to the market and leveraging its experience, best practices, and technology to help clients both prepare for the unexpected and recover from disasters: “That’s how we see us moving forward … as a true comprehensive services partner that helps our clients prepare and manage risk before an event.”
Bill Fender is Senior Vice President of Commercial Properties with FirstOnSite Restoration, a leading Canadian disaster restoration company providing remediation, restoration, and reconstruction services nationwide, as well as for the US large loss and commercial market. For more information, visit www.firstonsite.ca.