TransCanada helps increase pipeline IQ with new IAFC partnership
Whenever they respond to an incident involving pipelines and related facilities, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders have a unique challenge – how to close off the scene of the incident and protect the public and the environment while the pipeline operator closes off the leak and prepares to clean up the site.
“To properly clear the scene and determine whether residents need to be evacuated, first responders need to know things like where the pipeline is, what is flowing through it, how fast the product is travelling and when and where the flow is being shut off so no new product comes into an area,” says Vern Meier, TransCanada’s vice president, pipeline safety & 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. In more remote regions you might also have a pipeline operating safely for decades and first responders have forgotten that it’s there. At TransCanada, we want to make sure first responders know where our facilities are, what they carry and who to contact in the unlikely event of an incident.”
In 2012, we communicated with more than 15,000 emergency response agencies across North America with information on our pipelines and emergency response procedures. In addition to this outreach, TransCanada held 35 public meetings attended by emergency responders and met face to face with 180 emergency management agencies and officials.
Recently we kicked that support up a notch with a four-year grant of US$825,000 to support the International Association of Fire Chiefs and their 1.2 million emergency responders across Canada and the United States. TransCanada’s support is intended to aid in the development of education and training for future emergency response and preparedness in North America — especially in energy and pipeline safety. The goal of the partnership is safer pipelines, safer emergency response and safer communities.
“This partnership will result in an unprecedented level of training and awareness of pipeline safety being made available to emergency responders and firefighters,” said Vern, who announced the partnership during the IAFC Fire Rescue International Conference in Chicago. “It will help all of us have a unified approach and a consistent response before, during and after any incidents.”
Chief Russ Mason with Central County Fire & Rescue, which serves more than 90,000 people who live and work in St. Peters and St. Charles County, Missouri, welcomed the IAFC partnership. “This will be a great asset to fire districts and fire departments throughout this area along pipeline routes so that we will know what to do and how to respond whenever they have an emergency and have the training prior to (an incident) occurring,” Chief Mason said.
Collaborating on digital pipeline safety training
The partnership will see TransCanada and the IAFC collaborate to provide online energy and pipeline safety training — from prevention to emergency response. It will also provide toolkits that will contain safety guides and information on how communities can prevent pipeline incidents including contacting Call Before You Dig call centres to have underground utilities located and marked before a construction project.
“What we’re hearing from fire responders and fire departments near our pipelines is that they need a resource on pipelines that is accurate and easy to use in the event of an emergency, and that’s what we are working on with the IAFC,” says Robert Latimer, TransCanada’s Land Manager, Keystone North Projects, in Omaha, Neb.
“We don’t want to create a thick binder of technical information that never comes off the shelf — the goal is to create a concise resource that will provide first responders with the information they need to do their jobs,” Latimer says. “We are also looking at the possibility of a centralized resource that will include information on all of the pipelines operating in a single area that can work as a one-stop shop for first responders – if it is possible, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Emergency Response Exercises
IAFC members will also have the opportunity to take part in TransCanada’s regional emergency field exercises, experiencing and practising responses to situations — such as hazardous materials response and rescue — that could occur at any pipeline location.
“TransCanada will be included in IAFC activities and conferences, including the Fire Rescue International Conference and International Hazardous Materials Response Teams Conference, a presence that will increase our profile and strengthen relationships with these important stakeholders,” says Vern.
The partnership complements work TransCanada currently does to train and increase awareness among first responders through the National Association of State Fire Marshals, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the American Petroleum Institute Public Awareness Group.
TransCanada in the Community
TransCanada’s community investment efforts support the continued development of tools and resources needed to safeguard the local communities so they can thrive. Whether there is a need for first-class training, upgraded emergency equipment, expanded emergency responder services and more, TransCanada supports the men, women and organizations committed to safeguarding and protecting the community, now and in the future.
In the last five years TransCanada has:
- Aided 3,872 organizations across 44 states, eight provinces and two territories in North America
- Provided $50 million in support, impacting 1,431 communities
- Donated $2.3 million directly to more than 370 fire departments in Canada and the U.S.
- Provided pipeline safety information to more than 14,000 emergency responders in the U.S. and 1,600 in Canada
- Supported residents affected by 17 natural disasters
- Enabled streamlined emergency response and communications for 336 fire departments in U.S. and 91 in Canada
About the IAFC
Established in 1873, the International Association of Fire Chiefs represents chief fire and emergency service officers who lead the 1.2 million emergency responders in North America, plus thousands more around the world.
IAFC members are the world’s leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue and public safety legislation.
The IAFC provides leadership to career and volunteer chiefs, chief fire officers and managers of emergency service organizations throughout the international community through vision, information, education, services and representation to enhance their professionalism and capabilities.