Federal Records Management

Resources - Vital Records and Records Disaster Mitigation and Recovery - Appendix D

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Appendix D. Sample Records Recovery Plan

1999 Web Edition

As indicated in the introduction to Part IV of this guide, NARA does not mandate either the organization or format of agency issuance's that implement vital records or records disaster mitigation and recovery programs. The following draft disaster plan recently formulated by the staffs of NARA's Southwest Regional Archives and Fort Worth Federal Records Center is provided as an example of a recent internal agency issuance. Other agencies will decide best how to document and implement their own records disaster recovery plans.

National Archives Southwest Region and Federal Records Center
Fort Worth, Texas
Disaster Plan

Table of Contents

Disaster Emergency Plan: Southwest Regional Archives and Federal Records Center

There is an increased awareness in professional and administrative circles of the need to safeguard archival material, resulting in an intensified interest in the safety and preservation of records documenting our Nation's heritage. In addition NARA's responsibility extends to the large volume of temporary records the Federal records centers maintain for customer agencies. Preservation of records requires that proper environmental conditions be maintained and planning be done in order to avoid disasters if humanly possible. Planning also can minimize damage to archival materials if a disaster does occur. The importance of having an emergency plan which identifies the steps to be taken to reduce the amount of damage resulting from a disaster cannot be overemphasized.

The purpose of this disaster plan is to enable all employees, with assistance from others, to meet an emergency with maximum efficiency and minimum loss to records. The plan should be activated after any disaster that results in a major interruption of normal Southwest Region (7NS) and/or Fort Worth Federal Record Center (7NC) operations. A disaster could consist of a tornado, fire, flood, water damage, explosion, loss of utilities, or any other situation requiring emergency procedures.

This plan is also designed to fulfill GSA's Occupant Emergency program requirements which are set forth under 41 FR 101-20.103-1.

Disaster Prevention

Planning includes considering ways to avoid, where possible, the occurrence of emergency situations, by the following methods:

1. Monitoring of temperature/humidity control equipment

National Archives standards require a constant temperature of 70 degrees (+/- 5 degrees) and a relative humidity of 50% (+/- 5%) in the archives. To monitor these conditions, there are hygrothermographs, placed in the stack area (away from air vents); these should be checked and maintained on a weekly basis. Hygrothermographs should be recalibrated using an aspirating psychrometer for comparison. Any malfunctioning of environmental controls should be reported to the Directors of the Archives and Records Center.

2. Safe storage of records

To ensure safe storage of records, certain procedures must be followed. Records are not to be stored less than 6 inches from ceilings or suspended lights or 18 inches from sprinkler heads. Records should not be stored in contact with electrical or fire alarm systems or where they will obstruct any exit, access panel, air conditioning duct, or fire extinguisher. Eating and drinking in the stack areas or research rooms is strictly prohibited. Any roof leaks or signs of the presence of rodents or insects should be reported immediately to Directors of the Archives and Records Center.

The Integrated Pest Management Coordinators will check the building on a quarterly basis, including the inspection of sticky traps, doors, foundation walls, etc.

3. Fire prevention

Fire prevention procedures must constantly be in effect. Good housekeeping, constant monitoring, and prompt elimination of fire hazards are essential. The rule against smoking in stack areas and research rooms must be followed at all times. All flammable solvents must be kept out of records storage areas. Trash must not be allowed to accumulate. Electrical outlets must not be overloaded. Extension cords should not be used on a permanent basis. When extension cords are used for a temporary job, they should be industrial-weight cords.

All NARA employees are expected to become familiar with the location and operations of fire alarms, emergency exits, and evacuation routes.

The OSHA committee performs a monthly inspection of the entire building. Daily housekeeping is provided by GSA.

Employees should be trained and familiar with the use of fire extinguishers.

4. Monitoring for water leaks

There is an environmental control monitoring system that senses water pressure--indicating any water flow to the automatic sprinkler system. Building plans showing locations of water and sprinkler pipes and water cutoffs for the building, as well as information on the Alarm System, are given in Part II.

5. Flood plain designation.

Flood plains are classified as zone A, floods every 100 years; zone B, floods every 500 years; and zone C, floods not expected. Building 1 is located in zone C and flooding from rivers and creeks is not expected to occur.

6. Evacuations Plans and Emergency Lights

All NARA employees are required to notify their supervisors immediately of any potentially dangerous situations. They are also expected to become familiar with the location and operation of emergency exits, evacuation routes, and fire alarms. Supervisors shall brief staff members on emergency procedures at least annually.

Evacuation plans for the entire building are located in Part III. A chart identifying the location of all emergency lights is in Part IV.

The OSHA team monitors the lights on a quarterly basis.

Establishment of an Emergency Response Team

Conducting a successful and efficient salvage operation after a disaster requires activation of a team that should be established before any emergency occurs. The purpose of the Emergency Response Team is to:


  • 1. Ensure that all reasonable measures have been taken to prevent a disaster from occurring.

    2. Ensure that employees in the respective units are advised of emergency procedures, locations of fire alarms and extinguishers, evacuation procedures, and locations of emergency exits.

    3. Assess and assist during any emergency whether during business or nonbusiness hours.

    4. Direct the flow of people during an emergency to the nearest emergency exits in the quickest and most orderly fashion.

    5. Direct and supervise recovery operations to salvage the maximum volume of materials in a manner that will minimize future restoration costs and effort.

    6. Coordinate personnel.

    7. Identify vital records and establish recovery priorities.

    8. Arrange for equipment, supplies, and space.

    9. Designate a person in charge of public affairs and/or contact central office for advice.



The Emergency Response Team's collective mission is to evaluate quickly the disaster situation, make assignments, gather needed equipment and materials, set up work areas, and remove damaged records from the affected storage areas. If a disaster occurs in the building during nonwork hours, the Center Director is designated to receive the first call, assess the problem, and initiate the phoning of others if necessary. In the event of a disaster, the Emergency Response Team should be ready to meet day or night, within hours of the reported disaster.

The Emergency Response Team is responsible for following the guidelines of the disaster plan to lessen the severity of a disaster. Each team member has been given copies of the disaster plan for home and work. Each member also should have and be familiar with copies of Peter Waters' "Procedures for Salvage of Water Damaged Library materials" and Hilda Bohlem's "Disaster Prevention and Disaster Preparedness." The Emergency Response Team will also have a copy of FRED (Archives' Location Register) off-site; a copy of the Records Center's Report O1 will be transmitted from St. Louis if needed. The team should be prepared to brief other personnel involved in the recovery. It is essential that all workers have a clear idea of what is to be done and how to do it in a manner that prevents further damage to the records or accidents to the employees.

The Emergency Response Team is composed of the Federal Records Center and Regional Archives personnel. Any disaster-related action will involve cooperation between 7NC and 7NS. Immediately upon discovery of the emergency, the members of the Emergency response Team identified in Part V are to be notified. Central office personnel will be notified as appropriate (see Part VI), as soon as the Emergency Response Team and/or emergency personnel (see Part VII) determine the severity of the event. Other Federal Records Center and Regional Archives personnel are to be contacted should the event warrant additional staffing (see Part VIII).

Additional duties of specific members of the Emergency Response Team are:

7NC Director:
The Center Director has overall responsibility for the execution of the emergency plan. Responsible for major procedural decisions and for coordinating activities relating to them. This Director must also ensure that Emergency Response Team members and all other employees are aware of emergency procedures.

7NC Assistant Director
In the event of a building evacuation, the Assistant Director will account for all personnel and visitors in the Records Center area. Responsible for the direction of activities relating to records in the custody of the Federal Records Center. Coordinates with the Regional Archives Director the necessary plan of action for the protection and salvage of records in their respective units. This may include the recruitment of intermittent employees necessary to carry out salvage operations. Assumes overall emergency plan responsibility in the absence of the Center Director.

7NS Director
The Director will serve as the Vital Records Officer for the facility. Responsible for the direction of activities relating to archival holdings. See also Security Classified Records.

7NS Assistant Director
The Assistant Director is designated as preservation officer. This officer will confer with outside consultants whose expertise may be utilized during an emergency situation. In the event of a building evacuation, the Assistant Director will account for all personnel and visitors in the Archives area. Responsible for the direction of activities relating to records in the custody of the Archives. Coordinates with Center Director the necessary plan of action for the protection and salvage of records in their respective units. The preservation officer should review the disaster plan annually and make any changes that may be needed to keep it current.

In addition to the Emergency Response Team, the Records Center and the Southwest Region will organize teams to further assist in specific disasters in their respective units.

Within the Archives, an archivist and one of the archives technicians are designated as team leaders. The team leaders will supervise the activities of full-time and/or intermittent employees in the salvaging of records. The remaining archives technicians are responsible for removing and salvaging essential administrative files and archival records which are in the research room.

Within the Records Center, the Appraisal and Disposition Chief and the Service Branch Chief are designated as team leaders.

Plan of Action for Emergency Situations

The first step is to evaluate the disaster and notify Central Office as per Part VI.


1. First Alarm
Any employee who discovers a fire will promptly alert the Federal Building Control Center through the use of the nearest fire alarm pull station (fire alarm box). (See Part II for the location of fire alarm boxes).

2. Second Alarm
The employee who sounds the alarm should also alert all persons within hearing distance by loud shouts of, "FIRE IN (give location)". DO NOT PANIC. The supervisor, or the person in charge of the office to which the fire is reported, will report to the Emergency Response Team the location and severity of the fire, and the name of the person who sounded the alarm initially reporting the fire.

All permanent, intermittent, and temporary employees, volunteers, and visitors are to evacuate the building immediately by the nearest fire exit and assemble on the parking lot in front of the building. Evacuation posters detailing exits and egress routes are posted throughout the building and the lighted exit signs have been placed in the stack areas (see Part III for all emergency evacuation routes).

Handicapped visitors or employees will receive special assistance in evacuating the building. Research room attendants and receptionists will notify their supervisors if there are handicapped visitors who need assistance. All research rooms, lunch rooms, rest rooms, and the conference room, will be checked by designated fire wardens.

3. Communications
The FRC, which operates the building's main telephone lines, is responsible for calling the Federal Control Center to ensure that the fire department has been called and give any specific information about the fire or emergency. If the emergency occurs in the Regional Archives stack area or research rooms, the Center Director or Assistant Center Director will be notified so that they may contact the Control Center.

4. Roster call
The research room attendant in the Archives and the designated individuals in the FRC will take all sign-in sheets/logs with them to the front parking lot and call the names listed on all sheets to verify that the visitors, volunteers, contractors, and all employees not on leave status have evacuated. If there is any question about anybody remaining in the building, the employee will check with the Emergency Response Team. No NARA staff member is to attempt to reenter the building.

Water Damaged Materials

Due to the necessity of immediate action, primary emphasis of this plan is on the salvage of water damaged materials. Short of destruction by explosion or fire, damage to records resulting from water is probably the most severe. Virtually any wet document can be restored if prompt and proper action is taken. Exceptions are documents which contain very water soluble ink; these documents should be microfilmed. Although the specific methods for salvaging small amounts of material may differ from the methods for salvaging large amounts, the same general procedures are used for any type of water damage. Contact NARA's Regional Preservation Program, NNP-R, for advice.

Insects or Rodents

To reduce the possibility of insect or rodent infestation, the strict rule prohibiting the presence of food or beverages in the stack areas must be enforced. Newly received records and supplies should be examined for the presence of insects and rodents. If records are infested with insects or rodents, the Director will call NNP-R and the Federal Center's Building Managers' office (telephone number in Part VII) and request their assistance in addressing the problem.

Bomb Threats

The person receiving a bomb threat should make every attempt to write down the exact words of the caller. Note the exact time the telephone call was received and when it ended. Note any speech characteristics of the caller.

Try to obtain the following information from the caller in this order:

  • --When is the bomb set to explode?

    --Where is the bomb placed?

    --What type of bomb is it?

    --What does the bomb look like?

    --Why was the bomb set?

After the call has ended, the person who received the call should immediately (but discretely) report the incident to his or her immediate supervisor. The supervisor should then immediately notify the 7NC Director, who will notify the FEDERAL PROTECTIVE SERVICE. Building evacuation will be directed by the Emergency Response Team.

Serious Injury/Illness

If an employee or nonemployee has a serious accident and/or becomes seriously ill at the facility, immediately call the FIRE DEPARTMENT. Give the dispatcher the building address and the exact location of the stricken individual. Have someone available near the front entrance to direct paramedics to the scene. A supervisor should also be immediately notified.

The Emergency Response Team will arrange for the periodic training of employees in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic first aid procedures.

Severe Storm Warnings

If a warning of impending storm (such as torrential rain, gale force winds, damaging sleet, snow blizzard conditions, or tornado warning) is broadcast or ominous conditions are observed, a supervisor should be immediately notified. If necessary, the Center Director or the Assistant Center Director will call for the quick and orderly evacuation of all employees to a given area within the building. The Center Director, Assistant Center Director, the Archives Director, or the Assistant Archives Director may allow early dismissal of employees. See Part IX for shelter plan.

The building is not situated within a flood plain area; however, during periods of extremely heavy rain, conditions should be monitored to observe for the signs of flooding, blocked sewers, or other water-related problems.

Roof Water Leaks

Upon discovery of a roof water leak in the stack area, employees should contact supervisors or a member of the Emergency Response Team. At this time, Public Buildings Service personnel should be notified of the situation. Immediate action is to be taken to determine exactly where the leak is occurring and what measures are to be taken to prevent water damage to records. Central Office should also be notified. Plastic sheeting is to be immediately placed on the top of the stack units near the leak. Pails and buckets may be needed to collect water. Constant monitoring of the situation is needed to see if additional leaks occur and to empty pails. If records are being damaged by leaking water, remove them to a safer dry area. Care is to be taken to identify each FRC or Archives Box and/or bound volume removed during the emergency action. The correct shelf location should be written on the respective label of each box removed.

Roof leaks may occur at times other than during a heavy rain or ice/snowstorm. One should check for leaks during and after periods of heavy winds. Rainwater or snow that has collected on the flat roof may seep through one of the roof seams. Water may also seep through one opening, but flow within one for the many grooves on the roof and eventually fall several feet away from the actual point of entry. Condensing and air handling units located on the roof of the facility may also require examination as they have often been the source of roof leaks.

Sprinkler Head Damage

Your supervisor or Emergency Response Team must be alerted immediately in the event that a sprinkler head is activated due to an accident or malfunction. Immediate steps must be taken to close off the system water supply in order to prevent water damage to records and/or property. The water supply to the sprinkler system may also be shut off by closing the appropriate outside post indicator valves in the valve houses. Contact NNP-R if records have been damaged. See Part II for location of sprinkler pipes.

Prolonged Power Outage

A power outage is usually a short-term inconvenience, not a major emergency. However, in the event of an extended power outage lasting more than 1 day, textual records and microfilm may be vulnerable to damage. Paper is sensitive to changes in air temperature and to the amount of water vapor in the air. Rapid changes in temperature and relative humidity over a short period of time will accelerate the irreversible deterioration process. High temperatures and/or low relative humidity may cause textual records to become brittle and crack. High relative humidity may cause textual records to warp and promote the growth of mold and mildew. Microfilm may also be affected by rapid changes in temperature and relative humidity. Images on microfilm may become illegible under extreme environmental changes.

In the event of a prolonged power outage, every effort must be made to maintain proper temperature and relative humidity levels. Responsibility for facility power supply and proper climate controls lies with GSA. The Building Manager should be contacted in any case of prolonged outage. Also contact NNP-R. Power generators should be obtained from GSA and used for power heaters or fans. Good air circulation is important. Temperature and relative humidity levels should be checked. If the power outage continues for an extended period, place extremely valuable or fragile records in a location that will maintain the desired temperature (70 degrees F. +/- 5 degrees) and relative humidity (50% +/- 5%). After power is restored, temperature and relative humidity should be gradually brought to normal levels.

Hazardous Materials Threats

The building is located within fifteen yards to the west of a railroad. Although the chance of a toxic chemical-related derailment or explosion may appear to be remote, employees should be aware of this possibility. On several occasions, trains with tanker cars will sit several hours on these tracks. Derailment of chemical tanker cars could result in explosions and fires or release of toxic fumes. If such an event occurs and appears to threaten the safety of personnel and records, immediately call the FIRE DEPARTMENT.

The possibility exists of a hazardous chemical-related accident or disaster along or near local freeways. In such an occurrence, immediately call the Fort Worth Fire Department.

The Emergency Response Team must wait until public safety officials allow us to reenter the area around the building. None of the Emergency Response Team should undertake fighting chemical fires; the fire fighting should be left to the Fort Worth Fire Department which has a station located just a few blocks from Building 1.


The shock or tremor will provide the only warning in the event of an earthquake. During an earthquake, the following safety procedures should be followed:

  • Take immediate shelter under tables, desks, or other objects that will offer protection from flying glass and debris. Step under a doorway or into a narrow hall or corridor.


  • Do not leave cover until ordered to do so.


  • Evacuate the building if notified to do so by an intercom announcement, the Emergency Response Team, or the Fire Department.


  • Try to keep calm. Do not run outdoors. Watch for falling debris or electrical wires upon leaving the building.


  • If working in one of the stack area service aisles, employees should drop to the floor (supine position) and crawl to the main aisle.


  • Proceed to a safe area away from the danger of being struck by falling glass, bricks, electrical wires, boxes, etc.


  • Notify the Emergency Response Team of any fires.


  • The Emergency Response Team will check the names of 7NS and 7NC employees and visitors.

After an earthquake, the following emergency procedures should be followed:

  • Administer first aid and rescue victims as necessary. Report the seriously injured to the Emergency Response Team.


  • The Public Buildings Service will turn off utilities and inspect utility lines for damage.


  • Reserve the telephones for emergency use only.


  • Look for any damage or exposed hazards.

Steps to Follow:

The first step taken after a disaster has occurred is to insure that the building is safe to enter. The Fort Worth Fire Department will notify the Emergency Response Team when the damaged building is safe to enter. The fire department's emergency management team, if they are not already on the scene, should also be consulted about environmental problems before any attempts should be made to salvage records. The Emergency Response Team will notify personnel when the damaged building is safe to enter. It will be the director's responsibility to ensure that all electrical and gas hazards have been eliminated. If the air conditioning system still works, it should remain on. It is imperative to bring the temperature and humidity down, as mold will appear within 48 hours in unventilated areas made damp and humid by water.

If any of the records have been damaged by fire, extreme caution must be used in handling them. The records will be brittle and probably wet. Pieces of paper towels or blank newsprint (from our preservation supplies) should be placed under each charred page before moving the item. The towel or newsprint serves two purposes, to absorb moisture and to provide support. The corners of the towel or newsprint are then used to move the document.

Upon entering the stack area, all entrances and aisles of the stack area should be cleared. All doors should be opened to allow as much ventilation as possible. At this point, an assessment of the damage can begin. The Emergency Response Team should jointly decide the extent of the damage and the most appropriate initial course of action. The wettest records within each priority category (Part X) should be salvaged first.

If the volume of damaged archival records is small, the documents should be divided into three groups: those that will be packed and frozen; those that are only slightly damaged and can be fan dried or air dried right away; and those that were not damaged and need no treatment, except for possible relocation.

Temporary Off-Site Facilities

Should one or more temporary offsite facilities be needed during the emergency effort, the Emergency Response Team will contact GSA-PBS for available space on the Federal Center Complex. In the event of long-term records storage, other NARA facilities or temporary rental space may be required. See Part X for list of priority records to be salvaged.


While some supplies can be maintained at the facility to handle relatively small recovery efforts, keeping sufficient quantities of supplies to meet all contingencies is impractical, if not impossible. Emergency planning, however, should provide guidance on how and what supplies should be readily accessible. A list of in-house emergency equipment and supplies and list of firms supplying emergency/disaster goods and services appears in Part XI.

At present, 7NC and 7NS have one contracting officer with procurement authority. In addition, GSA can be called upon for expedited procurement of emergency supplies.

Facility Integrity and Security

In the event of a major disaster at the facility, priority must be placed on facility security. Should there be any evidence of damage to the building structure (i.e., perimeter walls or roof) which would allow unauthorized access, immediate security precautions must be taken. The affected area should be cordoned off, and security personnel obtained to maintain 24-hour protection until building repairs can be made. This effort should be coordinated with the GSA Building Manager and the Federal Protective Service. Similar security concerns shall also be of major importance for any offsite staging areas which may be needed as part of a disaster recovery effort.

Treatment of Security Classified Materials

Security of the vault is outlined in FRC Security Procedure #7. The most likely problem that would affect these records would be water damage from malfunctioning sprinklers and roof or pipe leaks or water damage resulting from fire fighting efforts.

To prevent unauthorized disclosure of information or removal of records following a disaster, the following steps should be taken: Regional Archives Director should be called to report to the vault. In the event of the Regional Archives Director's absence, the Records Center Director should be called. Wet records that can be salvaged by air drying should be moved to a secure location.

Excessively wet records should be frozen immediately for stabilization. Such relocation shall be handled as follows:

  • 1) Transportation shall be arranged through the use of vehicle with a closed trailer which can be operated by cleared NARA personnel.

    2) All classified material will be escorted by two NARA employees with the proper level of security clearance. This requirement must be adhered to at all times. This includes the movement of the records from the vault area to the FRC dock, loading of the records onto the designated vehicle, and the transportation of the records to the designated off-site location. As a point of reference, the same restrictions will apply to this process as already established for the disposal of classified records (see FRC Security Procedures, January 1995).

    3) Any or all vehicles used to transport classified records to a relocation site shall be locked and sealed by cleared NARA personnel.

    4) Placement of the records into the offsite classified storage area shall be handled in the same manner as the procedures established for the accessioning of classified records (see FRC Security Procedures, January 1995).


Treatment of Records Without Freezing

After the Emergency Response Team decides which material can be dried without freezing, drying rooms should be set up away from the affected area. If the air conditioning equipment and humidity controls used in the Archives stack area are still working, then drying of records should take place in this portion of the building. Relative humidity of 35-50% is optimum. Electric fans should be used to circulate air on the documents. Work surfaces should be covered with plastic sheeting. Very little cleaning should be attempted on wet records that will not be frozen. After the documents are dry, muddy records can be brushed to remove the dirt. Attempting to remove mud while paper is wet forces the dirt deeper into the paper's fibers.

Bound volumes should be interleaved with blank newspaper or paper towels, changing the blotting material as frequently as possible and as often as necessary until dry. When partially dry, the volumes may be fanned if the pages are strong enough to support the book standing on end. Wet volumes containing coated pages should not be allowed to air dry; they will stick together permanently.

Treatment of Records to be Frozen

For stabilizing and restoring a large volume of water-damaged materials, freezing documents at low temperatures (below 20 degrees F) is the most effective method. Cold storage provides accessible and inexpensive space in which a large volume of material can be stabilized in the condition it was found, preventing further deterioration while awaiting treatment. It also provides time to assess the damaged material and to restore the building or stack area affected.

The procedure by which the damaged records will be dried determines the way they should be packed for freezing. If only a small volume of material is frozen, it is economically more feasible to send the records to a local refrigeration unit and air dry them later by staff personnel. Bound volumes should be wrapped in freezer or wax paper to prevent their sticking to each other. Groups of textual records are wrapped in the same type of paper in packages not to exceed two inches in thickness. All bundles and volumes should be labeled, and the information recorded in a notebook.

If a large volume of holdings is damaged, the least expensive and most successful method for drying is vacuum or freeze drying. This technique allows the water to pass from the frozen to the vapor phase without going through the liquid stage. It is also effective in reducing stains on documents and odor caused by smoke. Vacuum drying should always be used with water damaged materials infested with mold at the time of freezing, as the records can be sterilized at the end of the drying process at little additional cost.

Materials designated to be vacuum or freeze dried should be placed in interlocking plastic milk crates. The milk crates are lightweight and provide for air circulation and drainage. Materials should be placed unwrapped in the cartons until they are loosely packed, approximately three-fourths full. Bound volumes should be wrapped with freezer or wax paper and placed in cartons on their lower edges so they will not fall over or be further distorted. They should not be packed too tightly, to allow for air circulation. Oversized material should be placed on uncolored cardboard and wrapped in packages not to exceed 2 inches in thickness. Burned and charred materials require special care in handling, as the paper or bindings are very brittle. Support single sheets on uncolored cardboard and secure them with another sheet of cardboard or heavy paper.

In cases of massive destruction, either conveyor belts or a human chain should be used to move the damaged material. If possible, the material should be packed onsite in an adjacent dry area. Two teams containing the same number of members should be organized, one to collect the damaged documents and the other to pack the records. Since wet material is much heavier than dry records, personnel should be cautioned to use proper lifting methods to prevent back injuries. The milk cartons should be numbered, and if available, copies of location registers or other finding aids should be annotated to record where the materials are being transferred. Accurate labeling or inventorying of records as they are moved will save a great deal of time later when the records are returned.

Large volumes of wet material should be moved directly from the building to the freezing facility, preferably in refrigerated trucks. For small collections of documents, dry ice may be used to freeze material for transport in unrefrigerated trucks to the freezing facility. Gloves should be worn when handling dry ice.

After material has been sent to the freezing facility, stack areas should be repaired and sterilized. Documents should not be moved into the stacks until the shelves are thoroughly clean and dry, and proper temperatures and humidity has been restored. As large collections have been safely kept in a frozen state for as long as 6 years, there is ample time to reestablish those conditions. During the period that the records are stored at a freezing or drying facility, a designated member of the Emergency Response Team should be responsible for ensuring the proper security and protection of the records.

Treatment After Drying of Records

After the critical drying operation is over, all returned dry material should be placed in the stack area and separated according to the different degrees of repair or restoration needed. Some documents may have escaped damage while others may require cleaning, flattening, or minor repairs. The preservation officer of the Emergency Response Team should consult with NNP-R before either attempting to repair or contract for the repair of badly damaged documents.

Before being returned to their original locations, the records should be monitored daily for several weeks to insure that mold or fungus has not developed. Random monitoring should continue at regular intervals for at least a year after reshelving.

Treatment of Photographic Materials and Microfilm

Photographs, negatives, and microfilm stored in the Regional Archives are salvaged and restored in a different manner than are textual records and bound volumes. For emergency stabilization, wet black and white photographs, negatives, and microfilm should be sealed in polyethylene bags and placed in plastic (not metal) garbage cans under cold, clean running water. This should be done while the materials are still wet; they should never be allowed to dry before attempting to salvage. They may be left in running water for up to three days, although, treatment at a professional photo-finishing laboratory equipped to handle damaged water photographs should begin as soon as possible. Vendors are listed in Part XII.

Documentation of Disaster and Salvage Operations

In the event that a disaster does occur, a post-disaster assessment report should be written to determine the effectiveness of the recovery techniques utilized. Extensive photographs and written records of the conditions of the building and the procedures followed should be kept. It is also important to document all resources used to cope with a disaster, including personnel, materials, time, and expenses. This documentation can be important in helping to obtain emergency budgetary funds.

Note: Parts II through XII are listed for reference only. A brief description of what each appendix would include in an actual plan has been provided.

Part II. Alarm System Information

This section provides instructions to employees on the location of fire alarm boxes throughout the facility and when and how they are to be used. Procedures for the initiation of an alarm and informing appropriate supervisory officials of the nature of the emergency precipitating the alarm are included.

Part III. Evacuation Routes

This appendix contains schematics for all floors of a building illustrating approved routes for evacuation of the building and the location of emergency exits. A designated assembly point for all building occupants sufficiently far away from the building is also specified.

Part IV. Emergency Lights

This section lists the location of emergency lights within the facility. Employees should be familiar with their location so that timely evacuation of the building can occur should regular lighting fail during an emergency.

Part V. Emergency Response Team Members

Names, Home Addresses, Telephone/Beeper Numbers


  • Persons having keys to the building.
    Persons having security clearance.
    Persons who have 35 mm. cameras.
    Staff who are active amateur radio operators.

Part VI. Procedures for Notification of Central Office Personnel in the Event of a Disaster

This section lists whom to notify after the Emergency Response Team or other emergency personnel determine the severity of the event. The nature of the disaster, its effect on the facility and records, and what recovery activities must be undertaken in response to the event affect the reporting procedures listed and the person(s) who should be notified.

Part VII. Emergency Service Numbers

Among the telephone numbers of organizations suitable for listing here are:

  • Federal Protective Service
  • Fire Department
  • Ambulance
  • Police Department
  • Building Manager
  • Hospital(s)
  • State and local government units dealing with environmental emergencies or hazardous waste management

Part VIII. List of Permanent Employees Home Phone Numbers and Addresses

Emergencies or disasters may occur at times other than working hours. Additional staff may also be required to assist the Emergency Response Team (ERT) identified in Part V. Hence, a current list of employees available for duty with the ERT is maintained.

Part IX. Shelter Plan

This section provides instructions for sheltering occupants of the building within safe areas of the facility should severe weather (torrential rain, gale force winds, damaging sleet, blizzard conditions, or tornado warning) be expected and evacuation is not an option.

Part X. Priority Records to be Salvaged

This lists the order of precedence in which damaged records are to be recovered. The wettest records in each priority category receive attention first.

Part XI. Emergency Equipment and Supplies on Hand


  • Portable Electrical Sump Pumps
    • Fire Department 817-332-2131 (24 hours)
      1000 Throckmorton, Fort Worth, TX 76102


    Industrial Extension Cords, Mops, Buckets, Brooms
    • Public Buildings Service 817-334-5521 (daytime)
      Federal Center 817-334-2888
      (FPO Fort Worth, TX 76115 control center - 24 hours)

    Wet/Dry Vacuums
    • Public Buildings Service 817-334-5521 (daytime)
      Federal Center 817-334-2888
      (FPO Fort Worth, TX 76115 control center - 24 hours)

      Fort Worth Fire Dept. 817-332-2131 (24 hours)
      1000 Throckmorton, Fort Worth, TX 76102

    Refrigerator Trucks
    • Avis 817-335-2847 (daytime)
      2727 E. Loop 820 South
      Fort Worth, TX 76119
      214-699-5307 (24 hours)

      Ryder Rental 817-877-3971 (24 hours)
      1315 Riverside Dr., Fort Worth, TX


    Sublimation Chambers

    • (walk-in facilities that lower temperature)
      Vought 214-266-4506 Mary Ann Lloyd
      Grand Prairie, TX

      Lockheed - Fort Worth, TX Joe Stout

      Houston, TX Carol Holman 713-483-2081

    Deep Freeze Facilities
    • Texas Cold Store, Inc. 817-338-9671
      1313 Samuels 817-581-1915 (home phone, Steve Still)

    Plastic Milk Cartons
    • Piper Industries, Dallas, TX 214-270-6009 (24 hours)
      12001 Corporate 214-468-0096 (home phone, Ken Murdock)

    • Fort Worth Star-Telegram 817-551-2101 (24 hours)
      SW Loop 820 at Hemphill
      Fort Worth, TX

    Dry Ice
    • Southwest Carbonic Dry Ice, Inc.
      3621 Byers Ave.
      Fort Worth, TX 817-738-9011 (24 hours)

Supplies on Hand

# on Hand Item
2 Sponge mop with squeegee
2 Heavy duty extension cords
1 Wet/dry vacuum
7 Sponges
12 Plastic milk crates
245 Polyethylene bags
2 Rolls of plastic sheeting
6 Work gloves
20 Protective face masks
1 First aid kit
6 rolls 6 mil plastic (polyethylene) Sheeting
6+ Scissors and/or "Zippy" Cutters
2 rolls Heavy-duty (duct) Tape
1 doz. ea. Paper pads, pencils, waterproof pens.
Variety of Colored Self-Adhesive
Dots. Large ("3x5") Self-Adhesive Labels
2 Buckets
2 Mops
2 ea. Brooms and dustpans
3 Large, plastic garbage cans
8 Water hose with connectors
1 Adjustable spray nozzle
1 doz. Sponges
1 doz. Soft cloths and/or brushes
3 boxes Plastic garbage bags
20 Boxes or plastic crates
4 Plastic wash tubs (c.18x24")
6 rolls Waxed or freezer paper
1 doz. rolls Paper Towels
500 sheets >3mil Polyester film (c.18x24")
2 rolls Aluminum foil
1 roll Nylon monofilament (1/32"dia)
6 ea.size 2" plexiglass plates (rounded edges for safety)
4x5", 5x7", 8x10"
2 doz. Clean weights (bags of lead shot, wrapped bricks)
6 Screen Racks (c.24x36")
2 doz. Cotton Gloves, Dust Masks
1 doz. Dry chemical sponges
100 Disposable gloves (medium and large sizes)
100 Plastic Aprons
1 doz. Flashlight with batteries
1 doz. Extension cords
6 Dollies and book truck
2 Tool kits (crowbar, hammer, pliers, wrench ...)
2 First Aid Kits
1 Battery Operated Radio
1 Camera with film
6 sheets Light weight (corrugated polypropylene)
rigid sheets (c.36x48")
  Hard Hats

    Part XII. Resource People and Institutions

    This lists vendors specializing in the recovery of wet black and white photographs, negatives, and microfilm. Records on such media should receive attention from a professional laboratory as soon as possible after the emergency or disaster has occurred.

    Bibliographic note: Web version based on Vital Records and Records Disaster Mitigation and Recovery, National Archives and Records Administration Instructional Guide Series, College Park, MD (1996), 90 pp.

    Note: Web version may vary from the printed version.