Experts say organizations can protect themselves from catastrophic damage from fires and other disasters by taking a number of precautionary steps.

The following suggestions for a disaster recovery plan were compiled by Dennis Branstad, senior computer science fellow at the Institute for Computer Sciences and Technology and James Winger, manager of technology transfer at the Center for Fire Research. Both organizations are divisions of the National Bureau of Standards.

Hire a computer security expert to identify vital computer records and draw up a protection plan.

Install sprinklers and/or other appropriate fire-fighting technology in critical areas.

Do not locate all telecommunications facilities on the same site or adjacent to each other.

Identify the top 10 tasks performed on your computer system and designate an alternative site that can handle those functions in an emergency.

Make sure that site has the equipment to perform the required telecommunications functions.

Duplicate the computer software programs for those top 10 functions and store them off site.

Duplicate daily -- and store off site -- important computer system data.

Draw up a list of employes and their phone numbers to be contacted in case of emergency and keep it off site.

Have master copies of essential documents off site.

Have a qualified fire protection engineer inspect your offices once a year.

Make your employes aware of what you have done.