Major incident readiness is a duty for public authorities and private business

London is waking up today to the news of yet another tragedy and disaster on our doorsteps. A 24 story block of flats in Notting Hill, West London has been gutted overnight by a massive blaze, and there are many people injured and unaccounted for. Fatalities have been confirmed by the London Fire Brigade.

The tragedy will have life changing consequences for hundreds of people in the flats themselves, lost loved ones, lost homes. They will be impacted for years to come. But the impact of the fire is also being felt by hundreds of thousands of people who live and work in West London.

Smoke from the fire can be seen for miles around, the building itself is in danger of collapse and a major artery into London from the west, the A40, which is only a few hundred yards from the location, is completely closed. A number of underground lines that run close to the location have also been suspended during the morning rush hour. This all adds up to massive disruption for the hundreds of businesses in west London whose employees need to get into work this morning.

The Crises Control head office is itself located only a couple of miles from Notting Hill. So we are amongst those affected ourselves by the road and tube closures. Our response early this morning was to send out a major incident alert using our Crises Control incident notification platform. This message notified staff of the incident and the resulting transport closures and advised them either to adjust their route into work according or else work from home until the situation improved.

This is second time in a couple of years that Crises Control has been affected by a major fire located a mile or so from our offices. The point is that you do not have to be directly involved in a major incident for your business to be disrupted for a few hours or even a couple of days. All business owners have a duty to their employees and shareholders to take steps to put in place plans that cater for a range of incidents that could befall and disrupt their business.

Local authorities, too, have a statutory duty to put in place business continuity plans and the authority covering Notting Hill, The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, has indeed activated its own major incident plans this morning as a result of the fire.

Private businesses and public authorities all have duties to their employees, customers and residents to be prepared for major events, to manage the disruption and to help their business and communities to get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible.

As a West London company, Crises Control and Transputec feel particularly close to this tragedy and our thoughts are of course with all those affected. We have asked staff to bring in food and clothes which we will be donating through local charities who are responding so magnificently to this tragic incident.