Recent Commercial Posts

When disaster strikes a school

6/15/2022 (Permalink)

A few months ago, National Public Radio published an article that should concern any school facilities manager.

The article, entitled “This school wasn’t built for the new climate reality. Yours may not be either,” is available here:

In the article, NPR journalist Anya Kamenetz tells the story of New Jersey’s Cresskill Middle/High School.

Her reporting starts on September 1, 2021, just a few days before the school was set to re-open for in-person learning after COVID-19 lockdowns.

Unexpectedly, a massive rainstorm – the remnants of Hurricane Ida – unleased seven inches of precipitation on the school in the matter of hours.

Due to a flaw in the school’s ventilation system, that rain poured into the building itself. The entire school was totally flooded, with one teacher describing the auditorium as “an aquarium” and some staff members becoming trapped within the structure overnight.

Inspectors valued the loss at $21.6 million dollars, far above the school’s flood insurance payout cap of $2 million. FEMA would reimburse the school for some of the costs of the repairs, but the school would need to front the money first.

By the time of writing, the school building had still not re-opened and repair funds were only just starting to come through.

What’s the lesson here for schools? Disaster can strike when you least expect it, and can be much more severe than you ever thought possible. Accepting that fact and preparing for the worst is your best defense against the unknown.

The ERP: a supplement to your emergency plan

6/15/2022 (Permalink)

When we first show most property managers or facility managers one of our Emergency Ready Profiles, their response is usually “we’ve already got one of those.”

To an extent, they’re right – most facilities have some kind of emergency plan in place already. They have their evacuation routes posted in case of fire, extinguishers placed at regular intervals in hallways, and drills set for every six months.

But if you think that a SERVPRO ERP is the same thing as your pre-existing emergency plan, then you’re missing the point.

SERVPRO ERPs can be an excellent supplement to the planning that you already have in place. Unlike your standard plan, which is probably stored in a 5-inch thick binder and locked in someone’s drawer, the ERP is a quick reference that’s accessible to anyone.

Trouble with water, fire or even mold? Anyone in your office can grab your ERP and figure out the proper way to respond in about 20 seconds, even if they’ve only worked at your office for 20 seconds.

Past that, the ERP is available via a mobile app and web portal, so it’s accessible anywhere at any time.

How many people can say the same about their current plan?

Why is senior living a "high loss" industry?

5/26/2022 (Permalink)

Why is the senior living industry considered to be a “high loss propensity” industry in relation to disasters?

By “high loss,” we mean more prone to property damage and other sorts of disasters than other types of real estate and other types of businesses.

There are many different factors that play into this designation. Let’s consider moisture and humidity. These levels can vary wildly in a single building in a senior living environment due to residents’ specific needs.

Take a residential senior living complex with 100 units. These units are designed to be more or less maintenance-free for the residents, yet the environments within them are highly customizable.

In one unit, you might have someone set the temperature at 60 degrees with all of her windows tightly closed. In the next, you might have the resident set the temperature at 85 degrees with her bedroom window cracked halfway in the middle of winter for a breeze.

While these types of variations happen in all types of residential environments, they are much more common in senior living, and can lead to all kinds of environmental issues.

Restoration pressures in senior living

5/26/2022 (Permalink)

When it comes to commercial restoration work, there are all kinds of factors that come into play that you simply do not have to consider as much in residential environments.

For instance, take senior living, an industry that we work in very often.

Senior living communities have been in the news often in the past few years, and not always for the best of reasons.

One of the major trends in the world of senior living, fueled by changes sparked by COVID-19, is a renewed focus on health, health care and wellness.

Previously, senior living communities were making investments in luxury amenities like spas and saunas to attract new residents.

Now, according to the website “Senior Living Today,” “the matter has been settled. Senior living is above all a health care product.”

In most ways, that’s great! Who wouldn’t want to live in a more hygienic, safer, healthier environment?

But when damage events occur, the pressure to contain them, contain environmental pollutants and not displace residents has been multiplied tenfold.

Better-educated caregivers are putting new emphasis on dealing with these issues comprehensively. Residents and their families are quick to apply pressure themselves if they feel like issues with water, biohazards or microbial growth are not addressed immediately and completely.

This shift is why so many communities have started to work with SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster. When the pressure is on, they can’t afford to go with a company that lacks the training, experience or resources to comprehensively deal with their issues.

The ERP Video

5/24/2022 (Permalink)

Here at SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster, we’re well-known for our Emergency Ready Plans.

These plans, offered as a complementary, relationship-building service to local businesses, are one of the most important ways that we help our community prepare for disasters of all shapes and sizes.

Since they’re so important, we’re constantly innovating on what constitutes an ERP. We’re proud to announced the latest addition to our emergency ready planning process: the walkthrough video.

As part of the building walkthrough, we include a professional videographer armed with a GoPro camera.

As we walk through the building with the facilities manager, the videographer captures the space in great detail, including utility shutoff, entry and exit points, and so much more.

Once we return to the office, that video is cut down to a few minutes and edited to serve as a virtual walkthrough of the building.

It’s not only helpful for us and the facilities manager. These videos are a great training tool for new staff as well.

Interested in booking an ERP? Give us a call today!

We pull out all the stops for our commercial customers

10/9/2021 (Permalink)

Recently, we were on a large commercial remediation job, and we couldn't help but snap the picture that's attached to this post.

The job itself is worth mentioning. We were called in at 4pm on a Friday to kick off an urgent cleaning project for a ten-floor commercial building. For most companies, tackling a single floor of a building this size would be a huge undertaking. But since we've invested in the resources and the personnel to tackle anything that's thrown our way, we were able to jump into action immediately.

This picture shows just how much we care. It was only an hour later that our owner, Thom, was on-site with our management team, diagrams in hand, coming up with a game plan to solve our customer's problem and make it "Like it never even happened." There is so much talent and dedication in this picture, and we're so proud that we wanted to share it with it. 

When our commercial customers call us, we pull out the stops and they get the very best!

What to Do With Elevators During a Flood

6/24/2021 (Permalink)

One of the most common problems that we run into when performing water damage restoration for commercial property managers is damage to the elevators.

Your elevators (and your escalators) are complex machines that can become very dangerous if they suffer any kind of flooding or damage. Knowing how to react when there’s been a water intrusion is vital for keeping your building safe and functional.

Before the Water Comes

The best favor that you can do for yourself is to prepare.

In part, that means proper maintenance. Make sure that your elevators have a functional surge protector, and that their standby generator works properly if you have one in place. You should also regularly test the emergency lighting and phone system.

You should also replace or repair any run-down components. If the doors have become corroded, the vents or doors are leaking, or the weather stripping has come up, it should be addressed.

Past that, you should consider installing a sump pump and a float switch. The float will prevent the elevator from running to the bottom if the pit floods, and the sump pump will enable you to pump out the water and restore your elevator to proper operation.

When the Water Comes

When a water intrusion does occur (perhaps due to a firefighting effort, or a storm), it’s important to act fast.

Run your elevators to the top landings and cycle the doors shut. If it’s safe, you may one to keep one elevator operational for emergency personnel and the disabled, but it’s wise to disconnect the rest in the machine room.

If you have tenants who rely on the elevators, you should consider evacuating them, especially if the crisis is ongoing. Often, the fire department may legally have to be the organization that coordinates this evacuation.

After the Water Comes

Ensure that no one is trapped in the elevators – if they are, call for emergency assistance.

Do not turn your elevators back on until they’ve undergone a thorough inspection. Check the machine room and the elevator pits for water, as well as the control panels and the elevators themselves.

If there has been damage, call your elevator company for assistance. If SERVPRO is on-site, we may be able to help you with drying your elevators so that they can be brought into operation faster.

Document damage in the greatest possible detail. Take photographs, save damaged components and call your insurance company immediately if you intend to put in a claim.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to stay as safe as possible, and get your life back to normal faster, if your elevators get wet during a flood.

How Much Water Does a Commercial Sprinkler System Put Out?

6/24/2021 (Permalink)

Ever wonder how much water your commercial sprinkler system can put out?

We can tell you from experience that it is a massive amount of water. When we arrive on-site to provide fire and water damage restoration after the sprinkler system has gone off, we usually have several days of mitigation and drying ahead of us.

In general, this is a good thing. Fire prevention systems are designed to only put out as much water as they have to in order to put out the fire. Contrary to what you see in the movies, your entire sprinkler system does not go off in case of a fire. In most systems, the response is localized to areas where the fire is active, since it is the heat from the fire that bursts the sprinkler bulbs and prompts the water to flow in the first place.

But how do you calculate how much water flows through your sprinkler system per minute? There are two ways to figure it out.

The Easy Way

The simplest way to get this question answered is to just ask your fire prevention company. They’ll be more than happy to explain to you exactly how the system works, how much water it is capable of putting out, and how best to maintain it so that it operates as designed.

Trust us – they’ll be happy that you called. 99% of the time, when someone calls their fire prevention company, it’s because something has gone wrong. You could be in the 1% of people who took an active interest in their system before they needed it.

The Hard Way

If you really want to figure out how much water your system can put out by yourself, then you should be prepared to do a little math.

Your overall flow rate depends on the flow rate of each individual sprinkler, which in turn is affected by things like the dimensions of the sprinkler’s opening, friction within the line and other factors. Each individual sprinkler should have a “discharge coefficient” provided by your fire prevention company that takes all of these factors into account.

Each sprinkler should also have a pressure rating expressed in “pounds per square inch.” Again, this should be simple to find via your fire prevention company.

To come up with a figure for gallons per minute, you multiply the discharge coefficient by the square root of the pressure rating.

Here’s an example. You have 24 sprinkler with a pressure rating of 20 pounds per square inch and a discharge coefficient of 6.1. The square root of 20 is 4.47.

6.1 * 4.47 = 27.26 gallons per minute.

If you multiply 27.26 by 24, you get the flow rate for that entire set of sprinklers: about 654 gallons of water per minute.

Like we said – it’s a lot of water! But if you’re dealing with a fire, you’ll be glad to have every last drop.

Commercial Fire Restoration: How Does It Work?

5/24/2021 (Permalink)

A man in a blue SERVPRO shirt speaking to the camera. We're here to help!

We're here to help commercial property managers in the West Seneca / Lancaster area deal with all sorts of disasters, including fires.

How do we do that? We created this video to show you (and have a little fun in the process).

The transcript is below. Enjoy!

The Fire Damage Restoration Process

Here at SERVPRO, we help people on what's basically the worst day of their lives. Maybe they had a fire, maybe a water main broke, whatever. It's not good. So I like to say we're not really in the restoration business, we're in the hero business. And I want to show you exactly what I mean by that.

We’re Available 24/7/365

Disasters happen when you least expect them. That's why we have dedicated dispatch personnel here to answer your phone calls 24/7/365, just like my friend Blaze here.

On top of that, we also have something called the 1-4-8 Response Guarantee. That means that within 1 hour of your call, even if it's 3 A.M. on Christmas, you're going to get a call back from our on-call staff scheduling a time to get out to you.

If it's an emergency, within 4 hours, they will be on-site to provide emergency mitigation services and stop the damage in its tracks.

Within 8 hours, you're going to have a scope of work that both you and, if necessary, your insurance provider will be able to go over so that you know exactly what you're dealing with. It's just one way that we make any disaster "Like it never even happened."

Emergency Mitigation After a Fire

The first step of any SERVPRO job is mitigation. How can you stop any further damage from occurring?

That's why it really pays off to have an IICRC-certified experienced technician like our friend Stormy here on-site during your loss. They can really assess what can be restored, what needs to be replaced and everything in between. How you doing, Stormy? Great job.

Drying After a Fire Has Been Extinguished

After the mitigation process has taken place, the next step is usually drying everything out and eliminating any more moisture in the structure. This is really important - any lingering moisture can cause structural damage as well as biohazards, including mold.

Our buddy Blaze here is getting ready to load 100 of these air movers onto our vehicles for a large commercial fire - hope you ate your Wheaties this morning, bud!

Structure Cleaning After a Fire

After the drying process starts, then it's time to start cleaning the structure itself. SERVPRO uses over 100 proprietary products along with specialized techniques to make your structure like your fire loss never even happened. Don't forget your Fire Star, Stormy!

Textile and Soft Contents Cleaning After a Fire

Even textiles that have been exposed to some really nasty fires can be cleaned nowadays thanks to our very new, very cool Esporta industrial-grade washing system. This system, independent studies have shown, can clean up to 90% of the soft contents that previously used to have to be disposed of, even if they've been exposed to fire, smoke, soot, water, even bio-contaminants. Not only can it clean them, but it can get them up to food-grade safe. How about that? Think you can throw in my mask there, buddy?

Deodorization – How Do You Eliminate the Smell of Smoke?

One of the most vital things that SERVPRO does to make your loss "Like it never even happened." - we get rid of the smoke smell. Deodorization is one of the most important services that we provide. We have all sorts of specialized techniques and tools, like this o-zone generator, to make it happen. Hey Stormy, let's make the world smell good again, right?

Reconstruction After a Fire

After the restoration process ends, then it's time to rebuild. That's why we here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns have our very own, full-time reconstruction team. Get out there and start building a better tomorrow, Blaze!

Your Restoration Heroes

I hope walking through the warehouse here with you gives you a little bit of a better understanding of what we do here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns every single day. The restoration process - it's got a lot of moving parts, but what you really need to remember is: we're not in the restoration business, we're in the hero business, and we're here for you, to make it "Like it never even happened."

ERPs - Now with Video Walkthroughs!

5/14/2021 (Permalink)

Screenshot of SERVPRO's ERP splash page. Get your ERP today!

At SERVPRO of West Seneca / Lancaster, one of the most vital services that we provide for commercial property owners here in Western New York is emergency planning. Our proprietary Emergency Ready Plan is custom-built for each property that we visit and designed to be simple to use, simple to access and a lifesaver in case of disaster.

Just because our ERPs work well, however, doesn’t mean that they can’t always be improved. We’re constantly searching for ways to add more value for our commercial property partners, and we’re proud to unveil our latest development: the video walkthrough.

Video Walkthroughs for ERPs

ERPs are highly structured and highly visual. Each ERP features the following sections:

  • Property Location, which lists vital details about the property as well as directions;
  • Property Details, which dives into construction details and dates, per-floor details and more;
  • Building Access, which lists various points of entry and egress, as well as locations of elevators and stairwells;
  • Utilities, which shows the location of a variety of utilities and building systems, as well as how to operate them;
  • Contacts, which details the chain of command in the building, as well as listing the contact information for vendors who might be necessary in a variety of emergencies;
  • Notes, which stores all of the information that doesn’t fit into the aforementioned sections.

Each of these sections contains a ton of photos to make finding various parts of the building easier. One day, as we were shooting some of these photos for a client, we realized that we could shoot a video version of the entire ERP at the exact same time.

Thus, the video walkthrough was born. These video walkthroughs provide a 3-to-5-minute introduction to the building and its systems. If the core ERP is great for an emergency, the walkthroughs are fantastic for training new property managers, or refreshing current property managers’ memories about how the building operates.

Interested in having us put a walkthrough together for your building? Call 716-674-1103 – we’re here to help.

Understanding Your Commercial Sprinkler System

5/14/2021 (Permalink)

A man holding a sprinkler bulb. Thanks, John!

Recently, we were lucky enough to film a video with John Sprandel of ABJ Fire Protection walking commercial property managers through the operation of their sprinkler systems. 

You can view the video here. Below is a transcript - we hope it helps!

Your Commercial Sprinkler System

So we're in the basement of the facility where the water service enters.

Now the water service provides water to the domestic facilities -  your toilets, your showers, your sinks, your water fountains.

It also separates to provide water for your fire protection system.

How Sprinkler Systems Discharge

Now, your fire protection system is piped throughout the building to individual sprinkler heads located in all areas of the building. These sprinklers are individually activated, through a frangible bulb in this particular case. That's designed to discharge when the temperature reaches 155 degrees so not all the sprinklers go off at the same time, only the ones that are exposed to that particular temperature. So, contrary to popular belief or the movies, only one sprinkler head is usually what it takes to put out a fire.

Backflow Prevention

Now, where we have the water service entering, we have a device that's called a backflow preventer. The back flow preventer prevents any contaminants from entering into the public water supply. The fire department or the fire sprinkler system also has a double check backflow preventer.

Why is it important to know those features in your facilities? You have to distinguish “where is the water coming from?” Is it from the domestic service or is it from the fire sprinklers?

Fire Alarms and Sprinkler Systems

The fire sprinkler system has a device installed on it called a flow switch. This is a water flow switch that activates within 60 seconds when water is discharging from one of these sprinkler heads. So not only does the fire department know within 60 seconds that a fire has occurred, but there's also water discharging and then the tenants throughout the facility will also know when the alarms go off that it's time to leave.

The difference between the fire system and a domestic water system is if there is to be a failure of the piping (say it would freeze and break), there's really no way to indicate that that water is flowing. So it's important to know what one of these valves you have to close in order to mitigate that water damage.

One of the things that we can work with you on is identifying, what particular case, what particular valve. We could do that with each individual facility.

Testing and Maintaining Sprinkler Systems

So how do we test this fire sprinkler system? We don't discharge water inside the building. What we do is we install a valve that simulates the water flow through one sprinkler head to ensure that that will activate the alarm system. We install a valve, we test it and then it flows for 40 to 60 seconds. Then it activates an alarm on the fire alarm panel and it will send a signal to the fire department, who will be notified and respond.

The audio visual devices throughout the building will also be going off so you know that it's time to evacuate.

The water service also provides water to the domestic services - your sinks, your showers, your water fountains, your toilet fixtures. What we have is a control valve. We have a bypass. That bypass will allow us to work on the meter. Then we have a meter that monitors how much water is used or consumed and then we have a backflow preventer with separate control valves.

The control valves on each side allow us to do any maintenance or repairs on that particular backflow preventer. On a domestic service, this backflow preventer is a little bit different than the one on the fire service. This one is a little bit more protective of the water supply. It's actually called a reduced pressure zone, or an RPZ backflow preventer.

The Difference Between Fire and Domestic Water Supplies

One of the differences between a fire service water supply and a domestic service water supply is that the device that's installed on the fire system, or a flow switch, will indicate that there's water flow within 60 seconds. If something were to occur on a domestic water service, there's no activation of any alarm or any device that would indicate that there's water flowing.

If for some reason the heaters failed and the pipe froze and it broke you may not see that particular situation until someone sees water flowing out of a door or they look down in the basement and see two or three inches of water on the floor.

It's important that these systems and these devices are properly maintained on a regular basis. Backflows need to be inspected and checked once a year.

So those are the type of services that my company provides and we'd be happy to help if there's ever any need for repairs.

Emergency Pre-Planning

In summary, one of the things that I want you to make sure you take away from this is that when an event occurs it may become confusing to remember which valve you need to close. So it's important to establish that pre-plan and that's what Dan (from SERVPRO) and myself are here for. It's by taking those steps that we can help mitigate damage control and loss when an event occurs

VIDEO: Emergency Water Mitigation + Insurance Concerns After a Water Loss

10/7/2020 (Permalink)

A YouTube screenshot featuring three adults, one female two male, facing the camera. Tina, Jim and Dan on the scene.

March of 2019 was not a fun time for Tina Coppins, Property Manager at Appletree Business Park in Cheektowaga. Someone left a sink running over the weekend at one of her tenants’ offices. That sink overflowed, causing 2,000 square feet of damage before anyone found it.

Luckily, Tina had an Emergency Ready Profile with SERVPRO. Using her ERP, Tina was able to respond quickly, professionally and comprehensively, saving her a huge amount of time, money and headaches down the road.

Our Marketing Manager Dan recently sat down with Tina to talk about the loss and how her ERP helped her to respond. Jim Wright of Wright Insurance was kind enough to join us to provide the insurance perspective on what happened. We’ll provide the transcript below, but you should definitely check out the video on YouTube as well.


DAN: Alright! My name is Dan Bauer, I'm with SERVPRO of The Southtowns, SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster. Here with me today is Tina Coppins, property manager here at Appletree Business Park, and Jim Wright of Wright Insurance.  How you guys doing today?

BOTH: Great. Great.  

DAN: We are here. We're talking about a loss that happened here, a water loss last March, 2019. That was over at Empire State College, one of the tenants here. Somebody left a sink on overnight and it flooded a 2,000 square foot space. Tina can you kind of tell me a little bit more about what happened?

TINA: Sure. So it was a Sunday afternoon. The cleaner came in and walked in to water on the floor, immediately called my guard, my guard turned around and called me, I called my maintenance guy. Within 20 minutes of that phone call, I had my maintenance guy here, got the water shut off. 

From there, what it ended up being, on the sink, a pipe blew apart. We're not sure how it came apart, it came apart, somebody left the sink on  and it just flooded the space. From there, meanwhile, my maintenance guy was on his way here. I called the cleaning company, asked them if they could get their truck mounts out there. Meanwhile, they said, yeah, we'll be there within half an hour.

My second step was I called SERVPRO, because I have an ERP with you guys and I know you guys do great on water cleanups. So what I did was I called the office and they said, within an hour they had a full team here, and once the team got here, what we did was, the team got here, we backed off our cleaning company. We told them "once SERVPRO gets here, you guys are done."

And that's exactly what happened. They left. My maintenance guy stayed. And we got the place cleaned up.

DAN: What was going through your head? You're the property manager, they're the tenant. How do those responsibilities differ? When did you decide to get involved?

TINA: What happened was, meanwhile, as I was talking to the cleaning company, my contact Jane showed up. She doesn't live that far from the building. I'm about 50 minutes away from the building.

So when she got in, I talked to her, I said "Jane, do you want me to call in the next step and get this going?" and she said "Absolutely. You call who you think, Tina, can do the job." I said "SERVPRO." She was totally on board with it.

And then that's when you guys came in. My maintenance guys, meanwhile,  my one maintenance guy I should say, was ripping off all the base cove while everybody was setting up and we got to get the air dryers going.

So we actually mitigated the loss, I think, by us reacting quick. Getting another truck mount here, getting the truck mounts here first and then getting SERVPRO.

DAN: Yeah, and I think you guys did a good job with that rapid response, which can save you a ton of money, ton of headaches, and stop the damage as it's happening.

Now Jim, as an insurance agent, how would you say, if Tina were your client and she called and said this is happening, how would you respond, what advice would you give her?

JIM: The biggest thing is us to get on the same page in terms of communication. Really trying to get a handle on how much damage was actually done. And for me to actually go back, refer to the policy and find out what players need to be brought in.

SERVPRO, an excellent choice of helping out to mitigate the loss like you guys did. But you guys took a lot of proactive steps yourself, which is necessary.

So with that being said, probably just the initial part of that claim, trying to get the players into place. And with a lot of the insurance companies I work with, this would be kind of an emergency response just because of the amount and the large area with a number of tenants involved coming into play.

We would be able to get a hold of them immediately and they would be able to bring out somebody immediately as well.

DAN: Say you had a crystal ball and you know this sort of loss is going to happen to somebody, a commercial property, property manager. What sort of coverages should they have in place, what sort of preparations should they make, just in case something catastrophic does happen.

JIM: Yeah. Well one thing we kind of do to kind of get ahead of this situation is to try to periodically meet with our clients at least once a year and review the main points of the policy.

And the big main points of the policy, there are certain levels of an insurance policy, there's sort of a broad, basic and special coverage and that will determine what kind of coverage you do have. And now that we're actually paying out monies, there is actual cash value, and then there is replacement cost.

Replacement cost says this: it just says, we're going to pay today's material cost as well as labor cost to get something going. The actual cash value, if you're subject to that, you might be getting hit up with depreciation, and the long run you're only going to be paying for a part of the claim, and that's not going to make anyone happy with this type of loss.

DAN: Tina, I imagine you have certain insurance requirements for the tenants here. Can you walk me through, what are those and why are those important to you?

TINA: So, our tenants, when they sign a lease, they have to have a certain level of insurance for liability, workman's comp, they have to have theft and damages. So we have thresholds for them and they all have to meet them. So every tenant has on file their insurance policy or their certificate I should say that names us as the additional insured.

DAN: And Jim, similar question for you. What are those important coverages or important considerations that a commercial property manager has to have, they're thinking about insurance requirements, what do you ask them to think about?

JIM: Well, I think Tina is doing all the right things here. Basically, they want to see the amount of coverages, if there are limits of liability that you want them to meet, as well as, I touched on replacement cost, some of those features.

Some of those features can actually be dictated in the certificate of insurance. But one step that I'm asking my clients to do is, of late, is this: it's not only having the certificate of insurance, but actually make the tenant, in your case, go back to their insurance company and have them formally listed so you get a copy of the policy

Not only will you get a copy of the policy showing the important coverages, but you'll also be notified if there's any accidental or intentional cancellation of the policy. Because you don't want to find that you're going to be responsible all of the damages because there's only one policy in place.

You want your tenants to be responsible for what they signed up for and then you can take care of the rest.

DAN: Anything else you two want to cover? Tina?

TINA: I just think that, the importance is, is having your ERP in place so you know a list of where everything's at, who you need to call, who's your electrician, who's your sprinkler, who's your plumber, who's your general contractor so when something happens, you're ready to go. You have an ERP in place. You guys have helped me get my ERP together which is huge.

It's in my office and that's where it sits. So if it's a weekend or it's midnight or if it's afternoons after I leave at 5 o'clock, somebody can grab it. My security guard, we have a security guy here 24/7, he can grab it. Or the maintenance guy, I can call him, I can say "hey, we have this going on," he comes into the office, there's a printout up there, and then I have my folder with the ERP in there. He can pull it and say "okay, this is who I need to call."

In a time of panic, what do you forget? You forget, who should I call, who do I need to call? You totally forget. So it's always good to have that at your fingertips.

DAN: Thank you for that. And I'm glad we could help. 

Jim, any closing remarks?

JIM: Tina does a great job here with her emergency response plan because usually, we're asking her who she'd like to use, I think SERVPRO is a great example of, they've got all the players in place, they've seen it all, they've done it all, so they know what to do.

But having that plan in place, I as the insurance representative have to go back and ask her who she wants to work with. If those decisions are already made in that quick of a time instance, I should say, or an emergency, it just makes the whole claim a lot smoother.

DAN: Awesome, thank you both!

I'm Dan Bauer with SERVPRO of The Southtowns, SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster. Tina Coppins, property manager here at the beautiful Appletree Business Park in Cheektowaga. Jim Wright of Wright Insurance. Thank you both for being here.

BOTH: Thank you. Thank you.

Faster to Your Commercial Water Loss in WNY

8/14/2020 (Permalink)

White analog watch, chronograph with stopwatch. As soon as water enters your structure, the clock starts ticking. That's why we have the 1-4-8 Service Guarantee.

As Western New York’s leading restoration company, we have the resources and the personnel to service the largest commercial water losses in the area.

Mitigating water damage effectively means drastically reduced costs for the businesses we work with, as well as minimal disruption to their day-to-day operations. Providing this level of service isn’t just about training our staff and stocking equipment, however.

In fact, three little numbers are the key to our success: 1, 4 and 8.

Our 1-4-8 Service Guarantee is our promise to our customers to provide timely mitigation to control damage, downtime and recovery costs.

What is the 1-4-8 Service Guarantee?

It’s simple. We’ll give an example – imagine that your business floods at 1 a.m. and you call SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster at 716-674-1103.

Within 1 hour, we’ll have contacted you to arrange for service. So by 2 a.m., you’ll already have the beginnings of a mitigation plan in place.

Within 4 hours, we’ll be on-site to start emergency mitigation services. So by 5 a.m., our crews will already be in place to minimize the damage. It’s difficult to overstate just how important these emergency services are. The longer water damage sits, the worse it gets, so starting mitigation within a four-hour window can often save our customers thousands.

Within 8 hours, we’ll brief you on the scope of the damage and our plan for full mitigation and restoration. So by 9 a.m. the next morning, you’ll already have a full plan in place for making your loss “like it never even happened.” Before your employees get settled for the day, you’ll be able to share with them your plan for getting their lives back to normal.

When you suffer a commercial water loss, you can’t afford to wait for service. That’s what our 1-4-8 Service Guarantee is for. Save our number in your phone – 716-674-1103 – and we’ll be there if and when you need us.

Every Business Owner Should Have a Restoration Company on Speed Dial

6/12/2020 (Permalink)

An iPhone laying on a desk showing its home screen. Call when you need us - we're here to help!

Remember speed dial? You could save a number on your landline and, with the press of a button, you could dial it. No looking up phone numbers or wasting time – when you needed to get in contact with somebody, they were there.

The interesting thing about speed dial wasn’t just the convenience. It was the exclusivity. Most phones had a limited amount of numbers that you could program for speed dial, which forced you to make decisions about whose number was important to save. Mom? Sure. Your best friend? Why not? The random neighbor down the street who “borrowed” your weedwacker? Not so fast. When you made a choice to save someone’s number, you were doing more than making your life easier. You were making a statement that they were important to you.

Cell phones have made speed dial more or less defunct. Now, you can just save any number in your phone and have it when you need it.

So, take out your cell phone right now, dial 716-674-1103, and save it as “SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster.”

Why? Since this isn’t speed dial, we don’t have to feel guilty about taking your mom’s spot in your phone. But more than that, when you need our help, you need it fast – do you really want to waste time trying to Google “SERVPRO” and figure out how to reach us?

Why do you need to call SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster fast?

In an emergency situation, every second counts. The fast that we can get out to you to start the mitigation process, the less damage you’ll deal with in the long run, and the less expensive the whole ordeal will be for you and your business.

For example, imagine your office floods. How fast does water damage happen?

  • Within minutes, water’s absorbed in your walls, floors, upholstery, furniture and anything else in the area;
  • Within 1 – 2 hours, your drywall swells and even metal surfaces and furniture will start to warp;
  • Within the first two days, doors will start to warp and metal will start to rust;
  • Within the first week, you may have permanent and serious structural damage, as well as the development of mold and other biohazards.

Now imagine we’re in the middle of a historic thunderstorm and every basement in Western New York is flooding. Our phones are ringing off the hook. The faster you call us, the faster we can get there and the more likely we’ll be able to start the mitigation process before any lasting damage occurs.

Or, imagine we’re in the middle of a blizzard. You get a call from your building engineer that a pipe burst and your business flooded, but you can’t drive there in the middle of a whiteout to check it out. What’s worse, you can’t go to the office and dig out the SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster business card to figure out who to call. Again, you’re left scrambling, Googling “restoration company” and hoping for the best.

Our point is this: saving our number in your cell phone now can you save you minutes. Those minutes could save you hours, if not days, of response time. And that response time could save your business thousands after an emergency.

So: our number is 716-674-1103, we are SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster, and we’re here to help!

How to Communicate Your COVID-19 Safety Processes to Customers

6/12/2020 (Permalink)

Three SERVPRO employees in Tyvek and face masks preparing to disinfect a building. There's clean. And then there's Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned.

As we move closer to the end of the coronavirus pandemic, more businesses are starting to open up to the public in Western New York.

This is exciting! If you’ve been closed for months, you’re probably chomping at the bit to get back to normal.

Here’s the rub, though: coronavirus isn’t over. We’ve flattened the curve and avoided overwhelming the hospital system, but it is still very possible to get sick.

Because of that, people are going to be very aware of the steps that businesses are taking to keep themselves safe and disinfected. While businesses obviously want to avoid alarming and inconveniencing people, they also need to make it unequivocally clear that they’re taking the necessary precautions to keep their patrons safe.

So how do you not only keep people safe, but effectively communicate that you’ve kept them safe without being annoying about it? We’ll tell you, with the 4 S’s of Showing You’re Safe. It’s not a comprehensive list of things you can do – rather, it’s 4 things you can easily do today to start showing customers that you mean business when it comes to COVID-19.

  1. Sanitizing

First and foremost – you’ve got to sanitize your space! But you probably know that already, and most businesses have some kind of established daily sanitizing protocol that they’ve worked out with their employees to provide a heightened level of disinfecting.

But here’s the thing: you also have to show your customers that you’re doing the work. People are on the lookout for evidence that you’re taking care of your business. Which brings us to #2.

  1. Signage

Hanging up signs is a great way to educate your customers about the steps you’re taking to keep them safe. The signs themselves don’t have to be super fancy or in-depth – for many customers, the mere presence of that kind of information will be enough to reassure them that you’re taking COVID-19 seriously. Here are a couple of examples signs you might want:

  • A “masks required for entry” sign on the door;
  • A “processes” sign near the entryway listing out all the steps you’re taking to sanitize;
  • An “employees” sign that instructs your employees on the steps they should take to disinfect;
  • A social distancing sign reminding people to remain six feet apart;
  • A sign on any hand sanitizer station encouraging people to sanitize their hands.

A good rule of thumb: if you want your customers to know something, put it on a sign. Seems obvious, but many business owners expect customers to just notice the steps they’re taking without being prompted.

  1. Social

At this point, customers are well-trained to check a business’s social profiles for up-to-date information about hours, events and everything in between. If you want customers to know about the steps that you’re taking to protect them from COVID-19, you better be posting that information on social.

That said, you should try to do something more exciting than just a text post listing out policies. You might also want to avoid anything too serious, technical or dour. People are burnt out on that kind of stuff. Post a video of one of your employees sanitizing a surface and having a blast; show off the new custom face masks you made; even if all you do is put your rules and regulations onto a nice image, you’ll be much more likely to catch your customers’ attention and show a little personality in the process.


If you really want to go above and beyond to give your customers peace of mind, we’re here for you. Our Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned program does more than just provide the highest standard of disinfection on a regular basis. It also provides you with a plethora of resources to communicate your dedication to sanitizing and safety to your customers. From window decals to table toppers to digital collateral, we’ll give you everything you need to show you care.

Want more information? Give us a call at 716-674-1103 today!

3 Tips for Getting Back to Business After Quarantine

5/27/2020 (Permalink)

3 male SERVPRO technicians in TYVEK next to a SERVPRO truck preparing to disinfect a business. When you're ready to reopen, we're here to help.

As the local economy prepares to reopen here in Western New York after a long and arduous quarantine, business owners are in uncharted territories. Most are anxious to get back to normal after months of financial hardship and uncertainty, but how do you weigh potential profits against safety? How can you know the safest way to reopen when nothing like this has ever really happened before?

At SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster, we’re here to help you put together a “back to business” plan that’s informed by decades of experience helping business owners of all sizes reopen their doors after all types of catastrophes.

While every business’s situation is unique, there are three things every owner should do: adapt, educate and prevent.

1. Adapt

While the coronavirus pandemic has shown us just how susceptible our world is to disaster, it has also shown us how quickly and effectively people can learn to adapt. A year ago, no one could have foreseen that we’d be social distancing and wearing masks to the grocery store – now, these things have become a matter of course.

Businesses have also learned to adapt. Businesses that are reopening should learn from those that have remained open during the pandemic and consider adopting some of their preventative measures in order to minimize the spread of the virus as people get back to work. These measures include:

  • Ongoing physical distancing between anyone inside a business location;
  • Switching in-person meetings to videoconferences, or meeting in open, well-ventilated spaces;
  • Drastically limited business travel;
  • Confidential methods for employees to self-report sickness or potential exposure, as well as confidential ways to inform other employees of their potential risk;
  • Updated and more flexible sick leave policies that encourage employees to take time off if they think they may be sick.

Policies like these may be a departure from “business as usual” for many businesses, but they pay dividends in the long run if they help to minimize the spread of COVID-19, which can pass very quickly through an active workplace.

2. Educate

While adapting your policies is a good start, you cannot prevent the spread of disease from the top-down. Employees must also be educated and empowered to minimize their risk from the bottom-up. Business owners should remind their employees of the following (even if it feels a bit redundant):

  • Shaking hands can be dangerous – use other forms of greeting;
  • Wash and sanitize your hands frequently;
  • Avoid touching your face and eyes;
  • Shield others from coughs or sneezes;
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces (like doorknobs, tables, desks, keyboards and light switches) multiple times per day;
  • As weather allows, open windows or adjust air conditioning for better ventilation;
  • Do not share food or drinks;
  • Know your sick leave policies and take advantage of them if you feel like you may be sick or recently exposed to the virus.

Employers should also be aware of what they can and can’t ask of employees. While recently revised EEOC guidelines allow employers to check employee temperatures at work if they display symptoms of respiratory illness, the existence of a fever or other symptoms would be subject to confidentiality requirements set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Past that, if and when a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed, employers may not require employees to be vaccinated.

3. Prevent

Policies and education create a knowledge base for employers and employees, but minimizing the spread of disease is an everyday activity. Here are just a few things you should consider doing:

  • Document all policies related to the pandemic and distribute them to your employees;
  • Create an outbreak response plan. Detail how will you react if someone is exposed to the virus, or you suspect that they have been exposed;
  • Inventory all high-touch surfaces and create a regular schedule for disinfecting them;
  • Consider scheduling regular deep cleans with a professional company like SERVPRO for an extra layer of protection and peace of mind;
  • Distribute face masks and gloves to employees with specific instructions on when and how to wear them;
  • If possible, stagger employee schedules to reduce the risk of cross-contamination;
  • Manage the space in your business to prevent close contact between people (for example, create one-way aisles or mark off six feet of distance on the floor);
  • Invest in no-touch sanitizer stations.

If you adapt, educate and prevent, you should be well on your way to reopening as safely as possible. If you’d like further help in creating your back to business plan, just give us a call at SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster at 716-674-1103. We’re here to help!

7 Causes of Commercial Water Damage

5/27/2020 (Permalink)

Four vertical white water pipes connecting to a larger system. Water damage can strike when you least expect it. Do you know where to check for leaks?

If you run a business, you should know – water damage could one day stand between you and your profits. The damage caused by leaks, floods and other forms of disasters is not just cosmetic. It can cause lasting issues that prevent you from operating your business effectively if not taken care of in the right way.

How bad can a water loss be? According to Zurich North America, insurance claims involving water cost three times more than those that don’t.

How do you minimize the cost of water damage? The simple answer: you prevent it from happening in the first place. And how do you do that? You know where it comes from, and you keep up with your maintenance.

Here are seven major causes of water damage in businesses.

1. Windows

When was the last time you resealed your windows? If you can’t remember, you may have a problem. A window that’s not properly sealed will allow moisture to seep in. Moisture leads to many different problems, including the development of mold and the warping of wood and drywall. A quick visual check should indicate whether windows need to be resealed or not, though a good rule of thumb is to regularly check on any windows that are more than 5 years old.

2. Pipes

A pipe break can be one of the most disastrous things that can happen to a business. Whether a pipe is totally broken or just leaking, it can still lead to major problems. Pipes break for all sorts of reasons – changes in pressure, cold weather, or simply deterioration over time. No matter the cause, the damage can be severe. Keep an eye out for bulging walls, water stains, a musty odor or loose and cracking tiles. If you suspect there may be a leak, call in an expert who can help you to detect it and figure out what to do next.

3. Gutters

If you don’t keep up with cleaning your gutters, they’ll clog. If they clog, then you’re likely to see water leaking through your roof or into your foundation, causing serious damage over time. If you see puddles forming around your building where they shouldn’t be, make sure your gutters are clear.

4. Roof

Your roof should protect your business, but if it isn’t properly maintained, it may become a liability. Leaking roofs don’t just lead to water damage – they can also promote mold, mildew and even fire hazards from shortened wires. If you think your roof is leaking, talk to a roofing professional to assess your options.

5. HVAC System

If you aren’t cleaning your ducts regularly, they may get damaged over time. This damage can lead to a variety of problems, including leaks. A professional cleaner should be able to remove excess water from your ducts as they clean, helping to prevent leaks and protect your ducts from issues.

6. Sewer System

Sewage clogs and backups can be a serious source of issues. Sewer water doesn’t just cause water damage – it’s also rife with bacteria and pathogens that can lead to health issues if you’re exposed. If you witness the early signs of a serious issue (like gurgling when flushing or water backing up from a drain or toilet), it’s time to bring in a professional to diagnose what’s going on before it causes any more problems.

7. Sprinklers

Sprinkler systems are there for your protection, but they too can cause water damage over time. If a sprinkler goes off, it will obviously soak the area, which will then need to be properly cleaned and dried. Sprinklers can also leak, however, which can introduce moisture to your walls, floors and ceilings and lead to lasting damage as well as issues with mold. You or your facilities team should regularly inspect sprinkler lines for signs of leaks or excess moisture.

Water damage can come from a variety of places, and there doesn’t necessarily need to be a preexisting issue with your current systems for leaks or floods to take place. That said, if you monitor these seven areas regularly, you’re likely to save yourself some headaches in the long run.

Leave Commercial Mold Removal to the Pros

5/27/2020 (Permalink)

An arm and gloved hand holding a spray bottle of Clorox bleach pointing to the left of the frame. Bleach may deal with mold on a surface level, but it usually can't reach the roots.

The “do-it-yourself” mentality embodied by many business owners is an asset that enables them to get ahead in a dog-eat-dog world. That said, taking on every problem on your own is not always the best solution, and that goes double when it comes to something like mold cleanup.

That’s because mold can be so deceptive. A business owner or employee may discover a few small spots of mold in a bathroom or an area that’s seen some water damage and figure that cleaning up should be no big deal. A little bit of bleach, a little bit of elbow grease, and voila! – the mold is gone, right?

Not always. If all you do is remove the surface of mold and you don’t deal with the roots, you’re going to have a recurring problem that you can’t solve on your own. The issue largely comes down to the types of products that a business is likely to have access to on its own.

All Cleaning Supplies Are Not Equal

When home and business owners alike find mold in their homes, they’re likely to reach for the same product: a jug of bleach. Initially, they’ll be happy with their results – chlorine bleach can indeed be used to remove mold from a surface, which is all a layman can easily visually detect.

But bleach alone won’t get the job done for a few reasons. On one hand, chlorine will evaporate before it has been totally effective, and it can be dangerous to use too much. More than that, though, a DIY bleach treatment won’t generally be enough to deal with the roots of mold, just enough to clean the surface.

How Professionals Remove Mold

Removing mold (and fungus, for that matter) requires effective cleaning of both the surface and the roots of mold.

On the surface, pros use a variety of products based on their approach. These include hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, borax and sometimes even tea tree oil.

For the roots, however, you’ll need professional-grade biocides, which are unavailable to most business owners due to their potency. Depending on the severity of the issue, special gear may also be necessary to get the job done.

For these reasons, we suggest that business owners rely on an experienced mold removal company to deal with their problems. While it can be tempting to “do-it-yourself,” you’ll likely only deal with the problem on a surface level, which can lead to major problems down the road.

Gym Floors Are No Match For SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster!

8/20/2019 (Permalink)

The thought of losing the brand, new wood gym floor can be overwhelming. Don't stress and call the experts at SERVPRO West Seneca/Lancaster.

We’ve seen it before, a school finishes putting in a brand new gym floor, and then disaster strikes! Flooding occurs and then, BAM the new gym floor seems ruined. However, SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster is here to tell you that is not the case! We have the technology and knowledge to save that water damaged gym floor, and restore it to preloss condition. That’s right, we can restore water or fire damaged wood flooring in your Buffalo, NY commercial property, school or business.

Our skilled technicians use a paneling system that creates a vacuum suction, pulling the moisture out of the hardwood. The sooner this paneling system is put into the place, the better chance there is for restoring your hardwood flooring. They then tent the paneling with plastic and utilize air movers and commercial dehumidifiers to pull out the remaining moisture. So, the next time you find your commercial wood floor under water, give the experts at SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster a call at (716) 674-1103.