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Fire prevention is a focus at our northern Alberta operations

Our Christina Lake operations with a clear-cut perimeter around company equipment which helps reduce potential impact from wildfires.

September 2016 – Wildfires are a fact of life when your operations are surrounded by the dense forests of northern Alberta, making planning and prevention the hallmarks of how we keep our staff and operations safe.

In 2016 and 2015, we safely and successfully met the challenge of responding to wildfires near our operations by focusing on emergency preparedness using Alberta’s FireSmart Plan. Because our sites are not near any community-based fire departments, we have to be ready to deal with fires on our own until additional help arrives, either from the Alberta government for wildfires and nearby towns for incidents on our sites.

“We’ve learned how to prepare for these types of events,” says Kristi Soderman, Director, Process Engineering & Process Safety. “Cenovus staff have shown tremendous composure and leadership when faced with wildfire situations. We continue to refine our approaches so that we’re always improving and working to ensure the right plans and people are in place to respond safely, quickly and appropriately.”

To help ensure wildfires are less likely to impact our sites, we create a perimeter of between 10 and 30 metres around company equipment and structures that is kept clear of trees, brush and long grass. The majority of our facilities are also constructed of metal, which reduces fire risk. In addition, the site’s working areas are either gravel or exposed earth. Should there be a fire at our facilities we have firefighters on site at our two oil sands operations ready to provide initial response. They’re also responsible for overseeing fire prevention across those operations, including wildfire awareness.

When it comes to wildfire prevention we take many factors into consideration. We carefully evaluate all outdoor activities for wildfire risk and defer work if necessary until conditions improve. This includes activities that involve using high heat or generating sparks, such as welding, that can cause ignition near grass or wooded areas. If work can be done, workers are advised of what to do if a fire ignites and must have the appropriate firefighting equipment such as extinguishers and shovels as well as the training to handle small incidents.