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Responsive teamwork after earthquake

Project: Structural assessment and repair
Customer: FCDO
Location: Mexico City

Our reputation for collaborative working was enhanced further when several teams worked together in response to the aftermath of the magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Mexico in September. Strong seismic shocks caused major damage to the Embassy in Mexico City, leaving it unfit for occupation.

Our seismic team initially deployed a structural engineer to conduct a full seismic structural survey.

A full team of an electrical engineer, architect and technical security systems engineer were able to travel within days of this assessment, to assess the loss of capability and respond to the loss of operational service from the ground.

This is one of the occasions when we are very much part of the FCDO getting what needs to be done, and we prioritise it. We put in the extra hours to get the job done.

Programme Manager

Embassy staff were advised to vacate the building to ensure their safety. The team then considered several options for accommodation and serviced office space including the new Embassy site at Torre del Angel before choosing more suitable, temporary serviced office space. Under the seismic programme, FCDO Services contractors used steel and timber shores to stabilise the structural damage to the Embassy.

The FCDO’s Estates team decided that the most effective way to restore capability was to deploy the Quick Deployment Office from FCDO Services in Hanslope Park. This is a secure communications facility in a highly portable shipping container, designed specifically for major emergencies.

FCDO Services recommissioned the facility, and prepared the unit for deployment, then contacted logistics for prompt shipment of the containerised office from Southampton docks to Veracruz port in Mexico.

The Quick Deployment Office arrived in the Embassy grounds and a Secure Technical Services Officer set to work to enable security, fencing, power connection and a data supply. Its ability to offer secure video conferencing using SecView™ technology helped Embassy staff to restore business services.

More widely, we contributed to the wider crisis response – making sure buildings were structurally safe and deploying our Mexico-based technical expert to restore critical IT in the Embassy as soon as possible. The agile response that resulted from this collaborative and flexible approach during a crisis was well received and is a clear demonstration of our ability to react promptly and without bureaucracy.