“Crises Happen” Part V

Building-Related Self Storage Crisis Management

There are numerous steps you can take as a self storage owner operator to prevent or mitigate a building-related crisis before it happens. Here are helpful preventative tips that I’ve learned from my 13 years of facility management experience that can help prevent or mitigate building-related crises at your facility.

Power Outage

  • Make sure your facility has a battery backup installed to keep computer systems and gates in working order in case of a power outage. This keeps your computers working and prevents someone from being locked inside the facility. Randomly check facility Exit sign lights during monthly site audits to ensure they are in working order during a power outage.


  • Routinely check in with your fire alarm monitoring company. If your facility’s alarm system devices stop communicating, they should contact you immediately. I recommend using facility fire panels with cell service built in instead of a traditional phone line hookup. Fire extinguishers should be checked and tagged annually by a vendor.
  • Make sure the fire doors are closed. Tenants and managers tend to prop them open. Firewalls and fire doors are designed to contain a potential fire within a section of a building. If a door is propped open, a fire can quickly spread. Closed fire doors must be an item on your Supervisor’s monthly store visit checklist.
  • Remove any power outlets from your facility’s units. Some older-style buildings have light outlets and plug outlets inside the units. Remove them immediately. Tenants can overload power outlets and cause fires. It will happen.
  • Upgrade facility wall partitions from wood to metal.


Regularly check catch basins to ensure they are not clogged. If they are clogged, clean them immediately. Clean catch basins help make sure that during the next heavy rain, water won’t back up into tenants’ units and damage their property.
Install heavy-duty door thresholds on all drive-up facility doors. Thresholds help slow down water seepage.
Install French Drains if your facility has standing water after rain storms. French Drains help mitigate flooding in areas where water tends to collect.
Make sure sprinkler heads are not in any area where U-Hauls or moving trucks can hit them. One New Year’s Eve, a Penske truck was exiting our drive-thru area with a roll-up overhead door. The truck hit a sprinkler head and kept going. Water poured into the load bay, got in under our sliding glass doors, and flooded the elevator shaft and most of the first floor of the building. That was not a fun New Year’s Eve. I was at our facility until four in the morning dealing with the water mitigation, a disaster restoration company, the fire department, and tenants.

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Peter Spickenagel, President and CEO of Citizen Storage Management is a nationally recognized expert in self-storage management. A frequent speaker at national conferences, he provides industry leaders and owners advice on key topics such as Revenue Management, Operational Best Practices, Creative Marketing Campaigns, and technology trends.

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