“Every fire chief needs to have this on their phone”
Over the course of a 40-year career as a firefighter, Billy Goldfeder has responded to virtually every kind of emergency, from fires and medical emergencies to search-and-rescue operations, hazardous material spills and natural disasters. As the Deputy Chief of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department in Loveland, Ohio, he says the key to effective fire response is knowing what you are facing and having the skills and equipment in place to deal with it. The biggest uncertainties for first responders, he says, are the emergencies they seldom, if ever, encounter. This includes a natural disaster like a tornado or a hurricane, or an industrial event like an incident involving a pipeline.
“We call these low-frequency, high-risk events because they’re something you don’t see every day,” he says. “They can present a big risk, but because they are so low frequency, we are not always attuned to deal with them. Sometimes, you don’t even know there’s a pipeline there because it’s been under the ground for 30 years and if it leaks you are the first team to secure the scene and you need to know what you doing.”
For Dep. Chief Goldfeder, preparation for an unusual event like a pipeline incident has two simple components: “The first step is to identify if whether you have got a pipeline in your district,” he says. “The second step is once you identified it, is to get some training so you know what to do when you get there.”
When Dep. Chief Goldfeder attended the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Fire Rescue International conference in Dallas in August, he came upon a resource that provided just what he was looking for. The Industry Emergency Response Portal — which was created through collaboration between the American Petroleum Institute, the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, the National Association of State Fire Marshals and the IAFC along with Shell and TransCanada — provides links to information on pipelines and training on dealing with pipeline emergencies. Also in development is an application, to be unveiled in 2015, which enables first responders to check for exact locations on pipelines in their area and details on the product flowing through them.
“The Industry Emergency Response Portal represents the next generation of pipeline safety training available to emergency responders and firefighters,” said Vern Meier, TransCanada’s vice-president of pipeline safety and compliance. “In areas where you have a number of pipelines in service, it can be a real challenge for first responders to know how many lines there are, who operates them and who to contact if there’s an incident.”
“This portal will help all of us have a unified approach and a consistent response before, during and after any incidents, and we are proud to be collaborating in it.”
— Vern Meier, vice-president, TransCanada
After test-driving the portal, Dep. Chief Goldfeder was convinced.
“This needs to be on every first responder’s iPad or iPhone or smart phone or whatever and any chief who’s out there needs to get involved in this program,” he says. “It’s a piece of cake to use.”
— Deputy Chief Goldfeder
Eric Barnes agrees. “I thought it was extremely easy to use,” says the materials expert with the Illinois Fire Service Institute. Barnes said the functionality of the site is tailor made for first responders whose work days are interrupted by emergency calls and time in the field. “I like that you can go back at any time if you’re interrupted by a fire call or a phone call or anything else,” he says.
“You can use it at the station or in the office if you have downtime, or if you need a refresher you can take a laptop and plug and play, just pick up where you left off.”
— Eric Barnes, materials expert
TransCanada’s involvement in the portal was made possible by our partnership with the IAFC. In June 2013 TransCanada provided a four-year grant of $825,000 to support the IAFC and their 1.2 million emergency responders. TransCanada’s support is intended to aid in the development of education and infrastructure for future emergency response and preparedness in North America — especially around energy and pipeline safety. Involvement in the Industry Emergency Response Portal is just the first step in the partnership, which also enables IAFC members to take part in TransCanada’s regional emergency field exercises, experiencing and practicing responses to situations — such as hazardous materials response and rescue — that could occur at any pipeline location.
“Safety is one of the key focus areas of our areas of our community investment strategy and since 2008, TransCanada has contributed over $4.7 million to our community partners and leaders whose mission is to grow and support emergency response and preparedness,” says Jeanette Dame, senior community partnership advisor USA, Corporate Social Responsibility for TransCanada. “Through these partnerships we have supported about 350 fire departments and organizations in 29 U.S. states and five provinces. It’s all about supporting the men and women who keep our communities safe.”
Click here to learn more about the Industry Emergency Response Portal. You can also learn more about TransCanada’s commitment to protecting communities and ensuring our assets are safe and reliable by visiting our 2013 CSR Report.