This article is part one of a series on climate, weather and our business.
Impacting a broad swath of the Western United States and portions of Canada, wildfires have been in the news headlines a lot this year. While fires have always been a part of life in the West, they are increasing in size, frequency and intensity due to climate change and other factors. This year’s fire season has been especially bad due to record-breaking heat waves and historic drought.
How do wildfires affect our business?
We operate many sites in fire risk areas, and many of our associates call the Western U.S. and Canada home. I recently talked with Lenny Hall, Global Security Director & Chief Security Officer, about this year’s wildfire season and the proactive steps the Company is taking to keep our associates safe, protect our operations and ensure business continuity.
“The fire season across the West is starting earlier and ending later each year,” said Lenny. “The length of the fire season is estimated to have increased by 75 days across the Sierras and other mountain ranges and seems to correspond with an increase in the extent of drought throughout most of the Western United States.”
All of that means increased vigilance when it comes to our sites and our associates located in areas of wildfire risk. “In keeping with our company culture, the safety and health of our associates is our top priority,” said Lenny. “Currently we have identified 15 sites in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Washington State and British Columbia as having potential for wildfire impacts.”
How do we manage wildfire risks?
Consistent with the company’s Crisis Management Plan, each site located in a wildfire risk area has a local Crisis Action Team (CAT). This team is tasked with gathering information and implementing safety and contingency measures. Each CAT reports up to operational and executive crisis management teams through an incident command system, or an ICS. If this sounds like the military, that’s intentional. The crisis management structure we use at ScottsMiracle-Gro is modeled on the ICS used successfully by the U.S. military and first responders for many years. ICS is an all hazards approach and is not limited to wildfires. Our ICS includes representatives from Environmental Health and Safety, Human Resources, Supply Chain and Operations leadership.
Our wildfire management team draws on experts like Ranger Dorn, a California-based former fire chief who advises utilities and others on managing and responding to wildfires. “He is the expert when it comes to wildfires in the state of California,” explained Lenny. “We’re lucky to have him as a participant and advisor to our wildfire corporate working group.” And in case you were wondering, “Yes… his real name really is Ranger,” added Lenny.
Our wildfire plans take into account several factors:
- Access to assets, including raw materials and distribution points
- Access to people, ensuring their safety and ability to get to work
- Access to a place to work, whether onsite or remotely
So, beyond the fire itself, what are some of the risks we manage related to wildfires? According to Lenny, “We monitor for issues including air quality, public safety power shutoffs, road closures, drought, weather patterns, and evacuation warnings and orders.” We also monitor the areas where our associates live for events that put their well-being at risk or prevent them from being able to report to work.
What about risks other than wildfires?
Each of our sites has an emergency response plan and team that is activated when needed for all types of emergencies, not just wildfires. Emergency response is one aspect of our company’s overall Business Continuity Management Program. This enterprise risk management approach consists of four pillars, led by various teams:
- Crisis Management (Security)
- Disaster Recovery (IT)
- Emergency Response (EH&S)
- Business Interruption (Supply Chain, Procurement, Planning)
Across all types of situations and locations, our focus is on protecting our associates’ health, safety and well-being. As the leader in lawn and garden, we also remain committed to providing the products and services on which our stakeholders have relied for more than 150 years.