At Group, we strive for agility and reduce the potential impact of emergencies through diligent maintenance, education, and communication. Our policy includes conducting regular inspections of fire safety equipment and maintaining clear paths to exits. We seek to align all employee training and procedures with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 30 and OSHA 10 certification. As part of our wildfire hardening strategy, we conduct annual vegetation management intended to reduce the chance of wildfires spreading to our facilities.
We also monitor external threats to our infrastructure by tracking communications from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Infragard, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the private sector to protect critical infrastructure. In addition, employees are encouraged to report any suspicious activity through multiple convenient channels that are monitored around the clock.
We coordinate training and tabletop exercises across our service areas intended to prepare for emergencies, and we provide a comprehensive Emergency Action Guidebook to all employees. In addition to this guidance, which includes hazard-specific checklists for various emergency scenarios, we develop unique, location-specific Emergency Response Plans. To help meet our goal of 100% employee participation in emergency response training, we hold annual training to all employees and provide additional training for field employees. Internal training and simulations test our evacuation practices and the functionality of emergency equipment. We believe that our ongoing commitment to training, exercise drills, and continuous improvement contributes to a robust risk mitigation program.
Effective preparation for and response during emergencies requires collaboration with our communities. Across our regions, our Operations and Community Emergency Response Team hosts annual Emergency Operations Center (EOC) training events in coordination with local first responders, police departments, contractors, city employees, elected officials, electric utilities, and other key stakeholders. EOC training exercises promote community preparedness, resilience, and outreach. Managers and employees also receive internal EOC training to learn how to more efficiently respond within the command framework and support EOCs when emergencies occur in other districts. Our procedures are designed to align with guidance from the Standardized Emergency Management System and National Incident Management System.
Wildfires and electricity interruptions present significant risks to our business and require us to be prepared. To help mitigate these risks, we have leveraged findings from our Wildfire Risk Assessment for Wildfire Hardening study to prioritize key initiatives, including main replacement projects, improvements to system interconnections, and the formation of our Wildfire Taskforce, which guides our emergency preparedness efforts by confirming completion of relevant training, upkeep of vegetation management, and the placement of critical equipment in strategic locations. The taskforce also helps maintain open lines of communication with fire agencies and other first responders. Additionally, our annual wildfire training reviews standard operating procedures for fire hydrant inspections, hydro pack operations and maintenance, fire prevention, dry weather monitoring, and responses to changing air quality.
Response and Recovery
During emergencies, we strive to keep our employees and communities safe while delivering a reliable supply of water to customers and first responders. Supplemented by mobile offices as needed, our EOCs act as central command centers that enable communication with relevant external stakeholders to organize emergency response and recovery, including the distribution of essential equipment, resources, and support. As a participant of mutual aid programs in multiple states, we share resources across communities, support systematic processing of mutual aid requests, and contribute to collective approaches for community protection. We continue to work with organizations to implement similar programs across all subsidiaries.
Our investments in backup-power generators, portable power sources, and other equipment allow us to restore and maintain service during emergencies, which may increasingly include events caused by climate-related risks. To help our customers through emergencies during after-hours operations, we provide additional customer service lines to answer concerns and provide updates.
Emergency events may leave long-lasting impacts on the community and our employees, so we typically extend our response and recovery efforts beyond the end of a crisis, providing water, food, and information to the affected community. In accordance with our disaster relief plan, we offer bill discounts and assistance to those who have lost their homes. Employees can also receive support for emotional wellness and recovery through a peer-to-peer support program and the professional CareBridge Employee Assistance Program. For more information on our employee health and wellbeing services, see the Compensation, Benefits, and Employee Wellbeing section.
By tracking our progress, executing tactical projects, and regularly evolving our strategy, we are better able to support the long-term resiliency of our operations to emergency events. We evaluate our emergency response by using after-action reports, tracking alignment with regulatory requirements, and leveraging post-incident evaluations to identify opportunities for future improvements. During our annual review of significant emergency events, we facilitate discussions that are designed to inform the next year’s training and planning activities.