Frequently Asked Questions
What is B2B?
A Back to Business (B2B) Program is a next generation Building Occupancy Resumption Program (BORP). This program allows business owners to pre-arrange private, post-disaster inspection of their buildings by pre-certified structural engineers or others upon the governing jurisdiction’s acceptance of a written inspection program. With advance knowledge of the building’s structural system, the inspector is able to make a safer and more efficient assessment about the appropriate occupancy status for the building in the aftermath of a disaster, and to legally post that status on the building.
Do all Cities have a B2B Program?
The Building Occupancy resumption Program was initially developed in San Francisco after the Loma Prieta earthquake and has since been adopted in many Northern California jurisdictions. SAFEq™ Institute is currently helping several cities in Southern California develop and implement their own Back to Business (B2B) Programs.
Is B2B for me?
B2B is intended to minimize business interruption after a disaster by accelerating the structural inspection process. B2B is appropriate for building owners and businesses that rely on occupancy of their facilities without significant interruption.
How does SAFEq™ relate to the B2B process?
SAFEq™ Institute is currently promoting the B2B concept to jurisdictions throughout Southern California. For buildings in jurisdictions that have already adopted B2B, SAFEq™ Solutions helps building owners:
- Prepare the B2B application and building dossier for submittal to the building official for approval and certification.
- Provide annual B2B related training and application updating to keep owner B2B plans current.
- Provide B2B related training to structural engineers designated as Emergency Inspectors for a specific owner building.
What does B2B cost?
Much of the cost of entering a B2B is realized during the set-up phase, where the pre-certified inspector tours the building, reviews available documents, and helps the owner assemble and submit the B2B application and building dossier. In the aftermath of a disaster, inspections are typically performed on an hourly basis. B2B application fees, if any, vary by jurisdiction. Owners should consider the cost of B2B relative to the potential savings realized by expediting the inspection and occupancy resumption process.
What does the building dossier include?
The dossier includes a description of the structural system, pre-certification documents, plans, photos, access routes and evacuation information in a written inspection plan. The dossier becomes the vital document following a disaster, blending the owner’s business priorities with critical information about the facilities that support them. The dossier is a roadmap for the owner and the emergency inspector to begin the process of returning to normal.
Why not wait for a free city inspection?
Local building departments can quickly become overwhelmed in the event of a disaster. State governments often recognize this vulnerability and create mutual aid agreements to deploy disaster service workers, including emergency building inspectors, across jurisdictional boundaries. Typically, it takes several days to fully mobilize mutual aid. In addition, resources may be limited, and volunteer emergency inspectors must prioritize public safety and will be deployed to areas of most severe hazard first.
They do not take an individual building owner’s business interruption concerns into consideration. Days or weeks may pass before an inspector visits your building, and even then, he or she may make a rapid, conservative judgment regarding the appropriate occupancy. If a building is given a yellow or red tag during this initial inspection, it becomes the owner’s responsibility to engage a structural engineer or wait for an inspector to return to more thoroughly assess the building, and this may take several weeks.
With a B2B program in place, an owner has immediate access to a deputized inspector who has intimate knowledge of the building and is able to make a more accurate and timely judgment.
Why not hire a structural engineer after the disaster?
Structural engineers will be in extremely high demand after a disaster – earthquakes in particular – and it may take several weeks to engage an engineer. It is very unlikely that an owner will be able to quickly engage an engineer who has advance knowledge of their building.
Why not have engineers on retainer for post-disaster inspection without B2B?
While an engineer may be able to make a recommendation regarding the appropriate occupancy status, an engineer cannot legally tag a building with official placards without pre-certification from the jurisdiction. The owner will still need to wait for a deputized inspector. However, if a B2B is not in place in your jurisdiction – it may still be useful to develop an evaluation plan and have an engineer on retainer to begin the post-disaster recovery process right away. An engineer’s review will improve safety, reduce uncertainty, and help the deputized inspector make decisions when they do arrive.
What if my jurisdiction does not have a B2B in place?
SAFEq™ Institute will reach out to your jurisdiction to begin the process of developing a Back to Business Program. However, even without a B2B in place, many clients will see major benefits in developing a post-disaster evaluation program as part of their broader emergency preparedness plan.
Who reviews the submittals once submitted to the City?
The City has the final approval on applications, but SAFEq™ will work with you and your team to develop a robust application ready for City approval.
If I have a campus of buildings, can I include multiple buildings in my application?
A campus can certainly have multiple buildings included in a B2B program, but each building must have a separate application and dossier.
Once my building(s) are a part of the B2B process, how do I keep my building on the B2B list year after year?
SAFEq™ will maintain your building dossier over time, and will help you file necessary renewal documents. SAFEq™ will make sure information about your emergency inspectors is current, and will update building dossiers with new building information as necessary.
Who can I talk to about other questions?
Contact SAFEq™ if you have any additional questions about B2B, or post-disaster evaluation and inspection programs.