Dreamworks builds disaster recovery program

If a major earthquake hits Glendale, one of the city's largest businesses, DreamWorks Animation, wants to get back to work as soon as possible — and has partnered with the city on a new program to make that happen.

On Monday, officials from the city of Glendale and the animation studio announced the new partnership, called the "Back to Business" program, during a press conference on DreamWorks' campus on Flower Street.

City Building Official Stuart Tom said the program allows businesses to pre-qualify to perform their own damage assessments with private engineers, who are 'deputized' on a case-by-case basis, in the wake of a disaster.

During a major disaster, members of the city's building and safety staff have a first obligation to inspect the structures at Glendale Water & Power and other utilities, fire and police stations, possible shelter locations such as the Glendale Civic Auditorium, and the city's emergency operations center.

While the city is focused on making sure those crucial public services are functioning, private businesses could end up waiting weeks or even months before city staff would be available to inspect their facilities, Tom said.

Allowing businesses to provide their own damage assessments will help them get up and running again sooner, he added.

Matt Bogaard, head of corporate security and facility operations at the studio, said the partnership started as an idea at DreamWorks, which, as a film studio, has a vested interest in getting back to work as soon as possible to meet deadlines and release dates.

"We're a business that is driven by various timelines and thresholds," he said. "You can't eliminate the risks [of an earthquake], but we can better mitigate that impact."

Bogaard said DreamWorks pays a retainer to engineering firm Structural Focus so that in the event of an earthquake, the company can respond quickly. In addition, the firm has already surveyed the DreamWorks facilities so its staff can more efficiently evaluate them for damage after a disaster.

David Cocke, founder of Structural Focus, said that Back to Business was patterned after a similar program his company established with the city of San Francisco in the wake of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Now that the program had been unveiled, Tom said the city hopes to enroll other businesses — of all sizes — throughout Glendale.

"It's scalable; we will consider each individual business," he said. "Any organization can talk with us."


Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal.


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