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  • Writer's pictureCraig Drabyk

Extreme Weather is Putting Emergency Backup Systems to the Test

When Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast coast back in 2012, countless building owners and facilities managers who believed they had proper safeguards and backup systems in place (or perhaps felt they didn't need them) found themselves ill-equipped to handle extensive flooding and loss of power. Many took steps to upgrade their buildings' storm preparedness afterward, but the massive flooding left behind last week by Hurricane Ida proved that not everyone in our region had learned that lesson.

Loss of power can wreak havoc when emergency generators and other backup systems are absent, untested, or poorly maintained. Though many facilities have generators and uninterruptible power systems (UPS) in place, these systems often fail due to lack of PM when put to the test. Others have their backup systems located in basement mechanical rooms, where they can easily become inundated by flood waters. With extreme weather events due to climate change becoming increasingly frequent, owners need take immediate action to ensure that their buildings and systems will be ready for the next big storm.

Regular preventive maintenance and periodic testing of emergency standby generators and controls are crucial to protecting building systems and cannot be overlooked. Facility managers should develop standard operating procedures that include testing of systems at regular intervals to verify they’re ready when needed. Many modern generators self-test and report back anomalies. Ensure that local and remote alarms function properly and will send alerts when backup systems fail. Test and maintain automatic transfer switches on a regular basis. Check UPS batteries and replace them when needed. Ensure that all critical systems and equipment that must remain operational in the event of a blackout have backup power. This includes domestic water booster pumps, sump pits, critical freezers, backup lighting, etc., as these items are often overlooked. Identify accessible fuel sources ahead of time.

Remember: one weak link in your emergency backup system can cause widespread failure and unnecessary loss. Don't be caught unprepared.

About Omni

Omni Instrumentation & Electrical Services, Inc., located in New Jersey and Maryland, is a premier instrumentation and electrical contractor, providing superior total care solutions since 1986. Services include instrument installation, tubing installation, instrument calibration, control loop testing, startup and commissioning, power and lighting, process control wiring, BMS wiring, telecommunications and data wiring, fire alarm wiring, security wiring, process network wiring, and control panel fabrication. Omni Instrumentation & Electrical Services, Inc., is certified in Foundation Fieldbus, Profibus, DeviceNet and ASI-Bus installation.

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