Securing The Hard Rock Cafe

Facilities manager Howard Long talks about taking safety and security standards global for restaurant chain

Coming out of those two fire situations, Long and the facilities team wanted to set standards for security and life-safety/fire safety that could be applied company-wide. There had to be, he thought, a clear focus on life-safety, with all the elements of fire detection, fire suppression, fire sprinklers and fire extinguishers, and it was going to cost money to make the company ready.

Unlike most security and safety managers, however, who face an uphill battle when pitching such plans to executive management, Long's employers were thinking at the same level.

"Actually, a lot of this came from executive management," he said. "I had never had goals, in fact, to think globally about security, but this was a chance to do that. Executive management came to us and said, ‘This is not going to happen again. Do what you have to do to ensure that.'"

The Hard Rock CafĂ© facilities team called in Hughes Associates, one of the leading risk and property loss protection consulting firms in the U.S., if not globally. The crew from Hughes Associates came back with a detailed life-safety plan and standards, and best of all, said Long, it wasn't written for the facilities guys. Instead, it was written for the key operations people – the general managers of the cafĂ©s.

That's actually when ADT Security Services stepped into the picture with their integration services. The integrator had previously been doing some here-and-there work with Hard Rock Cafés, mainly with burglar alarms, but now armed with a set of global standards for life-safety, the worldwide security and life-safety firm stepped in to manage Hard Rock's worldwide. In fact, the service became a one-stop shop kind of deal as ADT turned to sister companies in Tyco Fire & Security to deliver other components such as sprinklers.

It was a solution, says Long, that works well for him, since he'd rather have one point of contact. It also meant it was easier to apply global standards in disparate countries.

Not that applying those standards, which were based upon the most stringent ones in the U.S., was easy. While the directive to "make sure it doesn't happen again," came from senior management, store managers were looking at the life-safety and security improvements as cost points that could lose them the edge they needed for an annual bonus.

"The main problem I faced is that the managers don't want to go above and beyond the local code," says Long. "If there is only one required fire suppression inspection per year and we as the facilities department say we want to do two, they question our judgment."

It's especially true in Europe where some countries have very different perspectives on fire-safety than their U.S. counterparts. Fortunately he's been able to get around that challenge by getting those managers involved. They do "get" the business continuity and employee and customer life protection issues.

The challenge, says Long, "is that managers tend not to be overly technical. Our team spends a lot of time providing guidance to those cafĂ© managers as we upgrade their life-safety systems. They ask a lot of questions. Some are great questions that have actually made us re-examine what our security and safety approach is. But, of course, we also get those questions where we go, ‘Oh, I think I've heard that question 100 times already.'

"The key is to get them involved in the process," continued Long. "We're there to provide support for them, and at the same time, I look at the managers as being our department's hands-on operational staff. You have to get every thinking the same way."

Beyond Life Safety