Fire prevention is a focus at our northern Alberta operations
June 2020 - Wildfires are always a concern when your operations are surrounded by the dense forests of northern Alberta.
“The planning and prevention of wildfires are how we keep our staff and operations safe,” explains Nelson Ostrup, Manager of Emergency Management at Cenovus. “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. So, we focus on emergency preparedness using Alberta’s FireSmart Plan and have a small team of employees who are also fully trained firefighters .”
Cenovus employs a full-time team of professional Emergency Services staff at our Foster Creek Christina Lake (FCCL) facilities. This a multi discipline team specializing in industrial and structural firefighting, hazmat response, high angle rope rescue, and medical response and each member holds a Certified National Fire Protection Association 1001 professional Firefighter designation.
To help ensure wildfires are less likely to impact Cenovus sites, we create a perimeter of 10 to 30 metres around our operations that is kept clear of trees, brush and long grass. In addition, the site’s working areas are either gravel or exposed earth. We also carefully evaluate all outdoor activities for wildfire risk and, if necessary, defer work that involves generating sparks or high heat until conditions improve.
The last couple years have also seen new technology deployed to help in the early detection of wildfires across the province. New in 2020, Cenovus is using a wildfire notification app that draws directly from the Alberta and B.C. government wildfire monitoring centres and allows for early action at site.
“Rather than actively monitor multiple wildfire feeds, the app scans for new wildfires and sends an alert to the liaison if there are fires detected within a certain distance, or at a certain risk level,” says Ostrup. “The new app technology has been a game-changer in wildfire planning and action.”