What if a complete disaster strikes inexorably within your company?

It is 1 a.m., your cellphone rings. An extensive fire is raging in your company. The fire brigade is already there. You quickly summon the crisis team (not everyone can be reached) and rush to the company. When you arrive, you notice that the fire brigade has secured a perimeter. The crisis meeting will have to take place in your external crisis room, but only the night watch is there. In the end, you are able to convince him to set a room at your disposal as long as you meet in silence. At 2 a.m., you are notified that the press is already outside. Only at 3 a.m. your team is complete and you can start tackling this disaster… It happened to one of our members.

A very extensive fire turned the entire production building to dust. Moreover, the building was connected to a central warehouse of multiple production sites, which caused problems concerning business continuity and food safety. It was up to the company to prove that the food products could still be consumed.

Furthermore, a huge smoke development created heavy traffic hindrance on a nearby traffic artery and made the industrial area inaccessible for days.

The crisis team had to face multiple challenges at once: the operational cooperation with the fire brigade, the external communication (with the press, neighbours and customers), the sudden unemployment of 160 employees, the monthslong police investigation, etc. Moreover, in the meantime they also had to convince the FASFC that the warehouse products were fit for consumption.

The investigation revealed that the fire had been started by a pyromaniac. This could happen to any company. We would like to list some tips on how to deal with such a disaster.

What can we learn from this incident?

Crisis management should thrive in your company

What to have at your disposal to control the situation better:

  • An experienced crisis team that is also available and deployable at night;
  • An external crisis room that you can access 24/7;
  • Contact details to notify the surrounding companies 24/7;
  • Contact details of customers and employees that you can also access when the server is unavailable;
  • Disaster scenario crisis communication templates;
  • A trained spokesperson

External specialists may help limit the damage

If you quickly enlist external help, it may help limit harmful consequences. In this case, the company had to submit an external risk assessment to the FASFC in order to continue supplying their products.

Practice makes perfect

When the company participates in an exercise with the emergency services, it contributes to a better mutual understanding and insight.

How can we help you?

On the 6th of October, we are hosting a study afternoon on disaster management. Several speakers will share their expertise:

  • Stijn Pieters sets a theoretical framework
  • Dimi Vercammen explains how to cooperate with the fire brigade
  • Coca-Cola and La chocolaterie Galler testify about the floods of 2021
  • Fevia discusses sectorial crises such as Covid and the war in Ukraine
  • Vanbreda focuses on some case studies

Would you like to attend? Register now!

Would you also like to simulate a disaster together with the emergency services and Food Security? It is possible!

Request your exercise now.


Jaarlijks wordt een ledenvergadering georganiseerd waarbij hot topics zoals bijvoorbeeld cybersecurity, food defense, … naar voor komen (ook op basis van suggesties van de aangesloten leden) en waar er mogelijkheid is om ervaringen te delen met andere voedingsbedrijven. The Belgian Chocolate group

Simulatie oefening

Jaarlijks hebben we een gesimuleerde crisisoefening die door Food Security werd voorbereid en begeleid tijdens de dag zelf, uitgevoerd. Hierbij worden de leden van het crisisteam (en hun vervangers) ondergedompeld in een onverwachte situatie die on the spot moet worden behandeld. Deze oefening heeft ervoor gezorgd dat (bij een echt voorval dat we hebben gehad) de betrokken mensen hun taken en verantwoordelijkheden kenden, wisten welke info snel moest opgezocht worden, dat bepaalde teksten voorbereid waren, dat de juiste communicatie kon gebeuren, …. De debriefing bij elke oefening legt de onvolmaaktheden bloot dewelke dan weer materiaal zijn voor trainingen daarna. The Belgian Chocolate group

Ready to reinforce your company against a crisis?

We offer you an external and objective view on the facts 24/7, including an evaluation of the situation and advice on how to handle it.