SAFETY IN ACTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
President & CEO Cameron MacGillivray Vice President, Communications & PetroLMI Carol Howes Manager, Communications Amy Krueger Editor Terry Bullick, Bullick Communications Design, Production & Project Management Kylie Henry & Katherine Stewart, Studio Forum Inc.
Contributors Jennifer Allford, Mark Blinch, Lavonne Boutcher Cole Burston, Mike Fisher, Jason Franson, Anne Georg, Steven Hughes, Laughing Dog Photography, Des Kilfoil, Frankie Thornhill Printing McAra Printing, Calgary, Alta.
ON AND OFF
Safety is always personal
No strings attached Check your fluids Covergalls STARS Spot the hazards Steering to safety Sharpen an axe
9 SHIFT YOUR WORK
Gaining steam Statements, opinions and viewpoints expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of Enform. Copyright 2016 by Enform. Canada Post Publication Mail Agreement #40006922 For advertising rates or for consent to reprint or redistribute content in the publication, contact Enform at: email@example.com. Head Office: 5055 - 11 Street NE Calgary, Alta, T2E 8N4 P 403.516.8000 | F 403.516.8166 Enrolment Services & Certificate of Recognition: 1.800.667.5557 enform.ca
12 INTELLIGENT GEAR
Cool tools for many tasks
OIL & GAS INDUSTRY FIGHTS THE BEAST
KNOWLEDGE OF BODY
Our hands make us human
To read this publication online, visit enform.ca
30 HOME SAFE
No ordinary day
ON THE COVER
Check it out: Chuck Brousseau (left) and Scott Van Vliet of Environmental Refuelling Systems were photographed for our cover feature at their Edmonton yard by Laughing Dog Photography. Story on page 20.
To learn more about your safety and what Enform is doing to help you protect yourself, follow us on
Frontline Fall 2016
On and off the job
SAFETYIS ALWAYS PERSONAL This past spring’s wildfire in Fort McMurray gave new meaning to the word devastating. It chased 90,000 people from their homes and jobs. It turned 2,400 homes into ashes. And it shut down some of the country’s largest industrial sites. For oil sands producer Syncrude, it was the company’s first shutdown in 37 years. Two residents died driving away from the fire and in the early days of fighting the fire, first responders believed dozens, even hundreds, could perish in the flames. None did. It’s a remarkable testament to the power of preparedness. The culture of safety that permeates the region's oil and gas industry extended into the community. Children in daycares and schools in Fort McMurray were evacuated with the same order and control as workers at sites such as Mildred Lake.
In our biggest story to date in Frontline, we look at personal and professional responses to the fire. Our cover story shares some of the many experiences, beginning with Chuck Brousseau and Scott Van Vliet of Environmental Refuelling Systems Inc., who are also featured on our cover. As soon as they learned of the Fort McMurray evacuation, they drove north to the city from Edmonton to deliver fuel as the city burned. They knew the dangers they faced. And they knew how to manage them. That’s what a culture of safety is all about.
Like millions of other Canadians and people around the world, I watched news coverage of the fire with both concern and pride. Tens of thousands of people applied the safety knowledge they’d learned on the job and “brought it home” to take themselves and their families out of harm’s way. The fire proved that safety is always personal.
Cameron MacGillivray Enform President & CEO
No strings attached
Check your fluids
WRITTEN BY JENNIFER ALLFORD
NO STRINGS ATTACHED Ah, the hoodie. It’s like the mac and cheese comfort food of wardrobes across Canada. Before you throw one on and head to work, make sure you know whether your company or worksite allows them on the job.
The drawstrings around the hood can catch in rotating equipment, pull you in and potentially cause severe injury, even death.
CHECK YOUR FLUIDS
Before you put on that hoodie—or bunny hug if you’re in Saskatchewan—check to see whether it meets your worksite’s personal protection equipment requirements and assess its hazards in the field.
Hoodies are often banned for safety as opposed to style reasons.
Wearing the hood can restrict vision and hearing on the job and when driving.
THE MOST COMMON SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION ARE HEADACHES DIZZINESS No matter what you do, you’re going to need water. How much you need to drink to stay hydrated depends on your age, how much you’re moving or working and how hot it is. Some may need to drink more —others less. These tips will help you stay hydrated: Cut sports or energy drinks with water to reduce sugar and caffeine. Drink warm water, as it hydrates you much faster than cold. Be aware that you need to drink fluids throughout the day (or night shift). Try to drink enough to replace what you’re losing. A general guideline is about two litres a day; you’ll need more if you’re active. SOURCE: Alberta Health Services
FEELING TIRED& WEAK HIGH HEART RATE
LESS ORDARK URINE MUSCLE CRAMPS
Frontline Fall 2016
COVERGALLS FOR WOMEN WEARING COVERALLS DESIGNED FOR MEN, A BATHROOM BREAK CAN BE A VERY TRICKY BUSINESS. NO MORE.
THE ALL-IMPORTANT DROP BACK PANEL
After navigating men's coveralls for years—and limiting her intake of fluids on the job—mineworker Alicia Woods began designing coveralls for women. Her Covergalls’ safety coveralls have an all-important drop back panel. They’re also smaller with snaps around the wrists for a better fit.
1 Covergalls' drop back panel opens with an easy-to-reach two-way main zipper.
That’s good news for the roughly 21,000 women who work in mines across Canada, as well as the thousands of coverallwearing women in oil and gas and other industries. They can now effectively drink as much water as they like. To find out more about Covergalls workwear check out: covergallsworkwear.com.
2 The generous rear opening improves the toilet experience, says the company, mainly because women don't have to take off the suit to go to the washroom.
PHOTOS SUPPLIED BY COVERGALLS
REGISTER IF YOU’RE REMOTE
STARS OFFERS RELIABLE MEDICAL HELP
If you’re working, playing or travelling in a remote area in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba, you can register your location with STARS by calling 1-888-888-4567. You’ll reach the STARS Emergency Link Centre, which monitors thousands of remote sites and can connect you to the nearest available medical help.
PHOTO SUPPLIED BY STARS ALBERTA
STARS collaborates with provincial health services and can coordinate an emergency response with provincial resources such as ground and fixed-wing ambulances and
local charter services, as well as its own helicopter and medical crew. The STARS centre can also alert other first responders and consult with an on-call doctor to determine the best type of transportation and most suitable hospital for you as a patient.
Spot the hazards
SPOT THE HAZARDS The workhorse of traditional oil and gas production around the world, large “herds” of beam pumps populate Western Canada. Just like breaking a bucking bronco, working on a beam pump (or pump jack) takes some savvy wrangling. Neither is a task for your first rodeo and tangling with either can unleash the whallop of a locomotive.
If you’re working on or around a beam pump, know this: operating abandoned pumps can have “stored energy” in the counterweights and the horse heads. And if that energy breaks loose, it can cause serious injury and even death. Learn how to work safely around a beam pump with Enform’s Beam Pump - Safe Operation: A Program Development Guide. Available for download at enform.ca. How many hazards can you find in this illustration? Clue: we counted six. —Terry Bullick
ILLUSTRATION BY STEVEN HUGHES
SPOT THE HAZARDS ANSWERS : Clockwise from top left: 1. Counterweights stopped anywhere but the 6 o'clock position contain stored energy; worker could be struck if lockout control fails. 2. Facial hair makes this worker non-FIT test compliant. 3. Workers are relying solely on the brake as lockout control; at least two lockout controls are needed. 4. Belt guards missing. 5. Site lacks fence to restrict worker and public access. 6. Site is missing warning signs about risks of moving equipment.
Frontline Fall 2016
Steering to safety
STEERING YOUR WAY TO SAFETY WITH A FLAT TIRE
You may not hear it, but you most certainly feel it when your tire goes flat while driving. Your vehicle will be sluggish and start to pull to the flat side. Vibration and steering feedback can be intense, especially if the flat is on your steering axle. Here’s what to do:
Sharpen an axe
Panic never helps anybody, ever.
Reduce your speed to about 30 km/h or slower to control the vehicle. Put on your flashers to alert other drivers.
If there’s not a safe shoulder to pull onto, keep driving until the next exit or safe location. Avoid stopping in traffic where you might be rearended or cause a collision. You can drive for several hundred metres before the tire is destroyed or the rim is damaged.
HOW TO SHARPEN AN AXE An axe blade is softer than a knife blade so it is easier to sharpen. Axe blades can be sharpened with a grindstone, stone or file.
Check your tires and keep them inflated. Under-inflated tires are the leading cause of tire failure. And remember to keep your spare tire in good condition.
FOR ALL THREE METHODS
Wear gloves and eye protection, go slow and be careful
Sharpen both sides of the blade
Clamp your axe to a bench or in a vise, angle the file across the blade and file away from the blade—do not file on the return stroke.
When it’s safe, pull over, way over. Get as far away from traffic flow as possible. If you have safety cones, place them behind your vehicle to warn other drivers. If it’s safe to drive off the road completely, that’s an option, too. Check for traffic before exiting your vehicle. If you’re in a bad spot or visibility is reduced, call for help and stay clear of approaching vehicles.
Grind both sides equally and cover the entire edge. Grinding with or against the rotation is personal preference.
Start at the top corner of the blade and stroke to the bottom corner.
Keep the original shape of the edge After sharpening, run a thick piece of leather over the blade at a 45-degree angle— stropping the axe— to remove any burr.
Shift your work
MORE FOCUS ON SAFETY IS YOUR BEST PROTECTION FROM THE HAZARDS OF HOT WATER More than two centuries after the steam engine sparked the Industrial Revolution, steam is still game-changing in today’s oil and gas industry. As steam becomes more widely used to open up new stores of oil and natural gas, it’s adding to potential workplace dangers. Safety consultant Dave Fennell says steam and hot water are now high on the list of potential burn hazards for workers.
“In the petroleum industry, there are four times as many burns happening from hot water and steam as there are from flash fires,” says Fennell, who has 29 years of safety experience, many of them as a senior safety advisor for Imperial Oil. He’s also an industry pioneer in efforts to reduce the hazards of steam and hot water. It's important to understand those hazards.
GAINING STEAM WRITTEN BY LAVONNE BOUTCHER
Frontline Fall 2016
Shift your work
STEAM—IT BURNS LIKE FIRE
WORKING UNDER PRESSURE Modern day oil production is a highpressure operation. Specialized processes such as steam injection and hydraulic fracturing can use pressures as high as 15 megapascals (MPa).
Scalds and burns do the same thing—damage layers of skin. Wet heat from steam or hot water causes scalds. A burn is the result of skin being exposed to dry heat from sources such as fire or electricity.
For comparison, think of a firehose—with 30 times more pressure.
A serious scald burn can penetrate deeper into the skin, causing more damage than a dry heat burn. It can also leave more scars and take longer to heal. It all boils down to the temperature of steam or water and how long it’s on your skin.
Upgrading and processing plants using steam at those pressures are engineered to keep steam inside the system and under control. But if equipment ruptures or leaks, you don’t want to be anywhere near it. “The pressures we’re dealing with are dramatic and if anything comes apart, there’s going to be metal flying, along with the hot, high-pressure steam,” Fennell says.
Steam forms when water boils (at 100°C) and turns into gas. Water is dangerous well before that point. Even at 60°C, hot water can cause: Second-degree burns in three seconds Third-degree burns in six seconds.
DANGERS TO WATCH FOR WATER HAMMER:
When steam condenses in a line and water builds up, then hits a closed valve or fitting, it can cause a shock or hammer to the system. If the problem is minor, there’ll be a noise. If it’s serious, pipes can fracture, releasing scalding jets of steam. UNCONTROLLED RELEASES:
Rapid heating and pressurization when a system starts up can damage equipment or cause it to malfunction. This is one of the reasons facilities needed days and even weeks to slowly start up after the Fort McMurray fire this past spring.
Steam burns can do even more damage because additional energy is released as the steam condenses on the skin.
When things go wrong with systems, these are the most common reasons why: Faulty design Poor maintenance Improper operating procedures
MOST SCALDS AND BURNS FALL INTO THREE CATEGORIES:
Sometimes called superficial burns, these damage the outer layer of skin, leaving it red, swollen and sore, similar to a bad sunburn.
These partial thickness burns damage two layers of skin and cause pain, redness, swelling and blisters.
Also known as full thickness burns, these cause serious damage to all three layers of skin, sometimes including the underlying tissues.
Inadequate training, although the oil and gas industry requires specific standards and certification for anyone working on highpressure systems.
3 WHERE THERE'S STEAM, THERE'S DANGER Chances are if you’re working in oil and gas, you’re working with or near steam or hot water. “It’s all over the place,” Fennell says. Even operations that aren’t using steam injection processes use utility steam for heating, cleaning and thawing. Processing plants and upgraders use steam. Fennell says you can’t discuss the dangers of steam without talking about the hazards of hot water, because they’re essentially the same thing: water at different temperatures. And water doesn’t always have to be extremely hot or highly pressurized to cause burns. For example, if you accidently spray steam from a hand-held, low-pressure hose or nozzle into your work boot, you’re going to end up with serious burns. Fennell knows of a worker who was sprayed with hot water and ended up with scald burns so severe that he spent 30 days in hospital.
FOUR WAYS TO STAY SAFE 1
Know the hazards of hot water and steam 2
Use appropriate energyisolation procedures 3
Treat steam and hot water (above 60°C) as hazardous products 4
Use the proper personal protective equipment.
4 STEAM PROTECTION IS A TRICKY BUSINESS
Standard-issue fireresistant clothing does a great job at protecting workers from flash fires and heat. But protecting them from steam remains a challenge. “It’s the nature of steam. It’s a serious hazard,” says Jane Batcheller, principal investigator at the Protective Clothing and Equipment Research Facility at the University of Alberta. Work on new steamresistant clothing started several years ago, when
the industry reached out to U of A researchers, after seeing an increase in injuries from steam and hot water. The result was a prototype garment—coveralls and jacket—that could protect workers from flash fires, hot water and steam. The hitch: it wasn’t very comfortable. “In order to get that type of protection, the garments are fairly thick and they’re warm,” says Batcheller, adding more work is needed to make such clothes comfortable.
Working too long in heavy protective clothing can cause heat stroke. Or, it can tempt workers to undo zippers or roll up their sleeves to cool off, which defeats the entire purpose of safety clothing. Thanks to the research, there is protective clothing for dealing with hot water or steam. The focus now is on finding the right fabrics that will make it comfortable enough to wear all day.
PROTECT YOURSELF To protect you from fire, hot water and steam, this is what your personal protective equipment needs to do: Provide splash protection Not saturate if it gets sprayed Not retain heat from steam or hot water Provide thermal protection from fire and heat.
Frontline Fall 2016
COOLTOOLS FOR MANYTASKS These four tools tend to punch above their weight. Marvels of multipurpose engineering, they’re compact, versatile and useful in more ways than you can count. And they fit easily in a pocket or on your wrist.
Find the right one and you’ll have a miniature ally during tough times.
WRITTEN BY MIKE FISHER
DEPENDABLE WHENIT COUNTS
SWISS ARMY EVOLUTION With 31 tools, the Evolution is the ultimate in pocketsized practicality. It includes a compass with sight line, locking knife, wire cutter, wire stripper, crimper, reamer, needlenose pliers, fish scaler and more. If there’s one thing you don’t want to leave home without, it’s this tool.
LEATHERMAN TREAD Here’s the ultimate in handy: 29 tools you wear on your wrist. Made of 17-4 stainless steel links, the LeathermanTread is adjustable to any size of wrist and can be customized with the links you use most. Screwdrivers, hex keys, wrenches and even a tool to switch out a SIM card in your smartphone are literally right at hand. You can even attach a watch with a Tread links adapter.
14TOOLS— HUNDREDS OFUSES
THE GERBER MP600 BASIC You get 14 tools with hundreds of uses, including Gerber’s flick-of-the-wrist, patented, one-handed opening pliers. Includes three sizes of flat screwdriver blades and a pair of needle-nose pliers that can snip wire. The patented Saf.T.Plus locking system ensures you can work swiftly without hazard. Comes with a belt carrying case.
THE ULTIMATE INHANDY THE POWERHOUSE THATPACKS APUNCH
LEATHERMAN SURGE The Surge is loaded with 29 tools including Leatherman’s largest pliers, longest multi-tool blades, four outsideopening blades and a diamond-coated file. It’s a powerhouse. All tools lock in place for stability and the handles are rounded for comfort. While it’s a bit on the heavier side (335 g/12 oz.), it packs a lot of punch.
Frontline Fall 2016
Knowledge of body
OUR HANDS MAKE US
HUMAN "But if you want to know the kind of man I am, take a look at these hard workin’ hands . . .” From the song Hard Workin’ Hands by Dave Gunning and Ron Hynes
THE RIGHT FIT
Your gloves need to fit your hands and your tasks Like the adjustable wrench, the day of “onesize-fits-all-hands-and-jobs” work gloves is passing. Before picking out your gloves, you’ll want to assess the hazards they'll encounter and demands they'll have to meet, such as:
Temperature: hot or cold Chemicals: toxic, flammable or corrosive Abrasions, punctures or cuts: your gloves need to withstand the equipment you work around Impact, pinches and blows: impact gloves with moulded “armour” fend off injuries to knuckles, fingers and the top of hands Dexterity: movement and grip Waterproof: a barrier against fluids and steam Electrical: a barrier against shocks Flames: protection against fire.
Just as your gloves need to fit your job, they also need to fit your hand. So, yes, size matters. Gloves that are too big or too small may offer no protection at all. Manufacturers such as Superior Glove offer free on-site consultation and trials.
WRITTEN BY DES KILFOIL
INSTRUMENTS OF WONDER
MUSCLES IN YOUR HAND & FOREARM
AVOID THE OUCH
Keep your hands and fingers safe by: 1
Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety department reports disabling hand injuries made up 22.9 per cent of all sector injuries, down from 23.9 per cent five years before. By comparison, in 2014, the most recent year stats are available, the International Association of Drilling Contractors reported 43 per cent of all drilling rig injuries were to hands. That’s up from 41 per cent in 2013 and 40 per cent in 2012.
Upstream oil and gas workers in Alberta are bucking an international trend that’s seeing a rise in hand injuries.
25% HAND MUSCLES
Our hands preoccupy our brains. No less than 25 per cent of our brain’s motor cortex, which controls all body movement, is devoted to running the muscles in our hands.
From the delicate touch of skin on a piano key to a rig worker's powerful grip on a heavy chain, to the precise scalpel slice of a surgeon, the human hand is an instrument of wonder. Your hand has:
HANDS AND BRAINS
Assessing the risk: Identifying your workplace’s pinch-points and other hazards is the first step in preventing injury.
Steady goes it: Your risk of injury increases the faster you work.
Staying alert: Watch what your hands are doing.
Using tools: Use push sticks, pole magnets and other devices to avoid putting your hands into danger zones.
22.9% HANDINJURIES 5
Removing jewelry: Always take off rings or other jewelry on the job. And, uh, wear gloves: A recent study by the U.S. Department of Labor found only 30 per cent of workers were wearing gloves when their hands were injured; no similar stats for Western Canada are available.
Frontline Fall 2016
Knowledge of body
Great apes and some monkeys have opposable thumbs (and toes too, which give them a leg-up in treeclimbing.)
Fingers are incredibly strong. Quebec’s Louis Cyr (1863 – 1912) once lifted 227 kilograms (500 pounds)—with one finger.
But our hands have even greater dexterity. So we can, for example, tie a fly-fishing hook while other primates can only wave from nearby branches.
The hand is the most injured body part. In the oil and gas idustry, hand injuries make up more than 40 per cent of all injuries. The most common injuries are:
CUTS & EXPOSURE
The most common injury ranges from knuckles scraped when a wrench slips, to fingers mangled in a chain or mechanical pinch-point.
Painful, easily infected, and possibly fatal if an artery is severed in the forearm.
Hands are usually first to suffer frostbite, scalding and chemical burns.
BURNS A constant danger for workers around flames, steam and hot fluids, and exhaust pipes and machinery. The risk of hand burns from explosive gases is rising as hydraulic fracturing operations increase.
SPRAINS &STRAINS A daily threat to workers doing repetitive tasks and gripping slippery tools.
Opposable thumbs and toes
Baby and ring finger palm rotation
Field notes notes Field
WISDOM FROM DRIVING EXPERTS
BRAKING GOOD It's not about braking the quickest. It's about braking with control.
WRITTEN BY ANNE GEORG
Frontline Fall 2016
The mark of good (read safe) drivers is often revealed in their braking skills. “Braking is an essential part of safe driving,” says Ralph Haigh, senior instructor at Alberta Motor Transport Association. Safe driving is defensive driving, and it prevents panic stops and overuse of brakes. Haigh advises looking as far ahead of your vehicle as possible to identify hazards and to make good driving decisions. Slow down with poor visibility in wet conditions, in darkness and for different road surfaces, such as gravel, washboard or ice. Good defensive driving practices are important in all seasons. Because autumn is a transition season, it presents unique challenges for driving—and braking. Fall brings with it changeable road conditions. Snow can fall and ice can form when temperatures drop below freezing, especially on bridge decks. Fallen leaves can cover roads and create slippery conditions. To further complicate autumn driving, it's rutting and hunting season. “Hunters often chase deer and other critters onto roadways, which can create a hazard for motorists,” Haigh says. Even without hunters, deer tend to be most active at dawn and dusk. “If possible, avoid driving during those times,” he advises. “If not, watch for signs of animals and be more diligent.”
Think of driving as a full-time job that requires your undivided attention. Avoid distractions and leave the phone alone.
TECHNICALLY SPEAKING Braking is converting kinetic energy (motion) into heat. The larger the vehicle and the higher the speed, the more braking effort is required to stop in the same distance.
B R A K I N G E F F E C T I V E LY: PA RT 1
Randy Flemmer, president of Calgary-based Fleet Safety International, echoes Haigh's defensive driving tips and offers a few others. “To avoid hitting something, avoid looking at it,” he advises. “Look at where you want to go, apply your brakes steadily and steer the vehicle to avoid the collision.” As long as your vehicle's wheels are turning, you can steer around obstacles. “It's notabout brakingthe quickest. It's about braking with the most control.” Flemmer adds that most newer vehicles are equipped with anti-lock brake systems (ABS), which are designed for control, but don't shorten braking times. With ABS, brakes can be applied with a firm, steady pressure without locking up and causing the wheels to skid. Skidding can cause you to lose control. To truly understand how the brakes in your vehicle will respond, Flemmer recommends testing them—safely—on different surfaces and in various conditions. B R A K I N G E F F E C T I V E LY: PA RT 2
Braking is half the story when it comes to stopping your vehicle. Traction is the other, says Chris Davis, program manager of Health and Safety Training at Enform. “All the braking in the world is useless if you aren't in contact with the road,” he says. This comes down to how much rubber hits the road. Tire contact area ranges from the size of a box of tissue on heavy vehicles to the size of a coin for a motorcycle. When you’re braking and can’t get traction, the result can be a skid, Davis says. Your vehicle is still moving, but it's not stuck to the road. Reduced traction due to ice, snow, rain and contaminants on the road surface only make it worse.
YOUR OTHER BRAKE Your emergency brake, also known as your parking brake, is a different system from your regular brakes. Properly maintained, it could save your life. The e-brake is a backup if your primary brakes fail. Using the e-brake every time you park stops your car from rolling and keeps the brake from seizing. So it will work when you need it. Make sure a certified mechanic checks your e-brake every autumn, along with other safety maintenance checks. Everything from lights to brakes need to work properly, windshields need to be in good repair and fluids need to be topped up.
He adds: Defensive driving is maintaining control through a balance of speed, traction, space, visibility and time. Lose that balance and you could end up reacting to an emergency.
Frontline Fall 2016
WRITTEN BY TERRY BULLICK
PHOTOGRAPHED BY COLE BURSTON
It began with a spark and quickly became the “Beast.” The fierce and unforgiving wildfire that swept across northeastern Alberta in May and June forced some 90,000 people to evacuate Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The Beast was a living, breathing, cunning monster with an appetite for anything in its path: homes, possessions, communities, businesses, boreal forests and work camps. The fire put nearly all of Alberta’s oil sands operations on alert and shut down some at times, with all but the most essential workers fleeing to safety. The fight against the Beast captured headlines around the world and the hearts of a nation. Firefighters and other first responders battled around the clock to change its course and anticipate its next moves—and keep people and property out of harm’s way. Countless workers and companies in the oil and gas industry stayed (or in some cases, came) to help, supplying equipment, transportation, water, food, fuel and additional reserves of fortitude and determination. All were resolute in keeping the Beast at bay.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARK BLINCH
Here are some of their stories.
Frontline Fall 2016
ENVIRONMENTAL REFUELLING SYSTEMS INC.
following to fill the tank once it was on the ground.
Chuck Brousseau was in Edmonton the afternoon of May 3, when residents of Fort McMurray were ordered to evacuate. As tens of thousands of people drove south away from the flame-engulfed city, he and company president Scott Van Vliet of Environmental Refuelling Systems Inc. drove north toward it. They brought a 300-litre slip tank of fuel and seven jerry cans so they could help people along the way.
Hauling gasoline up a highway with a burning forest on either side of it is something few people would rush to do. With a couple of phone calls, Brousseau and Vliet easily recruited more help from their company. By the third day of the fire, the company had deployed 20 staff, nine fuel tanks and more than a dozen trucks, ranging from pickups to Super Bs, to the area.
“We were in the truck driving before we had any real plan,” says Brousseau, ERS’s petroleum systems operations manager. The oilfield service company has a fleet of patented, cardlock fuel tanks (ranging from 1,000 to 200,000 litres) it delivers and sets up at customers’ drilling and construction sites. For more than a decade, many of those customers have been in Alberta’s oil sands. Brousseau knew fuel for evacuees and emergency crews alike would quickly become scarce as the city’s service stations closed. His first call was to Nick Brenner, the fire marshal for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Brousseau’s next call was to the fire’s emergency response team to coordinate delivering fuel to where it was needed most. Virtually every location meant driving up a two-lane road with roiling flames on either side. But they did it— with a 75,000-litre multi-compartment card lock tank loaded onto their winch tractor and a Super B truck
ERS eventually set up 11 multi-compartment card lock tanks for gasoline and diesel in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. That included one at the weigh scales near the intersection of highways 63 and 881 at the south end of Fort Mac the night after the evacuation, and another 10 km north of the city. As the Beast moved, so did the people and equipment, always in accordance with Canada’s national fire code. “During the drilling season, we’re under a lot of pressure to set up our equipment and typically we turn around in four to five hours,” Brousseau says. “We moved one tank to Parsons Creek and had it pumping in 16 minutes.” In those first intense days of fighting the Beast, the ERS team slept in their truck cabs. With the city around them emptied, a cooked meal, a toothbrush, a shower and even a roll of toilet paper was next to impossible to come by. The ERS team brought in their own “camp,” a trailer that slept eight.
Our staff feels the devastation that has occurred and we are doing everything we can, from manning the fuel systems to rescuing stranded pets, or moving emergency equipment with our trucks, when needed
ENVIRONMENTAL REFUELLING SYSTEMS
gas anddiesel card lock tanks
With their fuel tanks in place, ERS began using their bodyjob trucks, highway units and Super B trailers to move supplies from outlying work camps to first responders. They also delivered jerry cans of fuel to people who had run out on the highway. “Our staff feels the devastation that has occurred and we are doing everything we can, from manning the fuel systems to rescuing stranded pets, or moving emergency equipment with our trucks, when needed,” reads an ERS Facebook post from May 6. “It was quite the experience,” Brousseau says, his voice catching at the memory of the 27 days he spent at the fire. “It was tough on our guys, but it was very impressive to see them come together to protect the city.” He adds: “We didn’t know we could help people as much as we did. We were prepared, but not knowingly prepared.”
Chuck Brousseau (left) and Scott Van Vliet are two of the 20 Environmental Refuelling Systems employees who volunteered during the Fort McMurray fire in May. PHOTOGRAPHED BY LAUGHING DOG PHOTOGRAPHY
ERS set up 11 multi-compartment card lock tanks for gasoline and diesel for residents, workers and first responders. PHOTO SUPPLIED BY ENVIRONMENTAL REFUELLING SYSTEMS
With their fuel tanks in place, ERS began using their equipment to move supplies and equipment from outlying work camps to first responders. PHOTO SUPPLIED BY ENVIRONMENTAL REFUELLING SYSTEMS
Frontline Fall 2016 23
Feature Horizon Oilfield Solutions (now CLEANTEK Industries) helped first responders at wild fires in Fort McMurray and Fort St. John (pictured) in May. PHOTOGRAPHED BY HEATHER THEEDE
Smoke severely cut visibility during the fire. PHOTO SUPPLIED BY ENVIRONMENTAL REFUELLING SYSTEMS
HORIZON OILFIELD SOLUTIONS Like Chuck Brousseau and Scott Van Vliet of Environmental Refuelling Systems Inc., Jesse Curlett and a small crew from Horizon Oilfield Solutions (the company changed its name to CLEANTEK Industries Inc. in July) drove to Fort McMurray to offer their help. Curlett and his crew left the Calgary area on May 7 without so much as a phone call, email or text to or from anyone in Fort McMurray. Curlett, the company’s vice president of operations, knew the average daylight in Fort McMurray in May was more than 16 hours. With the city’s power grid shut down, he also knew darkness would be a problem. He was confident firefighters, the RCMP
and other first responders would put his company’s solar-hybrid light towers to good use wrestling the Beast. Curlett and his crew made a grocery run for pop, snacks and other supplies and loaded up before making the seven-hour drive with nine of the company’s light units. The patented portable lighting units, now called SolarHybrid.Li, are fully automated, maintenancefree and run off a combination of solar and diesel power. When running, the units’ three-storey towers flood an area in some 4,000 lumen of light (about the same brightness as the lights used for nighttime road paving). The units also generate power and have two 220-volt 30-amp and two 120-volt 20-amp plug-ins.
“We knew we could help,” Curlett says. “And we have a company mandate to help community.” As the Horizon crew neared Fort McMurray, they stopped at emergency fuelling stations to offer light along with cans of Red Bull, bottles of Gatorade and tuques. They eventually set up light units at several locations, including the Government of Alberta command centre (where they also provided power) and the RCMP roadblock at highways 63 and 881. They also illuminated the checkpoint and permit office for Canada Task Force 2 and the RCMP. “When we arrived at the RCMP roadblock on Highway 63 about 11:30 at night, they were trying to direct traffic with vehicle headlights and (handheld) beacons,” Curlett says.
After Fort McMurray was evacuated, providing the RCMP and other first responders with supplies and support was the focus of many companies and volunteers. PHOTOGRAPHED BY COLE BURSTON
When we arrived at the RCMP roadblock on Highway 63 about 11:30 at night, they were trying to direct traffic with vehicle headlights and (handheld) beacons. Our lights made it a lot safer to work at night and even during the day because the smoke was so thick
HORIZON OILFIELD SOLUTIONS:
portable lighting units
daysspent at fire
story high units
“Our lights made it a lot safer to work at night and even during the day because the smoke was so thick,” he says. The Horizon crew spent about 10 days at the fire, returning in mid-June to pick up equipment. The Fort McMurray fire was one of two the company faced this past spring. First responders used the front yard of Horizon’s five-acre property in Fort St. John on Mile 72 of the Alaska Highway as an operation centre for a wildfire there. Again, the light units were put to good use. “We were very glad to help in Fort St. John. It was really for morale,” Curlett says. “And while we had some minimal property damage, there was no damage to the greater community.”
Frontline Fall 2016
CEDA The day the fire forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray, exactly 1,371 CEDA employees were in and around the city. The evacuation triggered the company’s incident response plan, which had been updated and strengthened only the year before. The first of the plans four priorities was to account for the location and safety of every employee. “The safety of our people is always first and foremost,” says Pat Cantner, CEDA’s Calgary-based vice president of Health, Safety and Environment. Like other employees of the large oil and gas service contractor, Cantner always begins meetings with a “value moment” and a “safety moment.” In other words, the company walks the talk when it comes to safety. And it really hit its stride on May 3, as many of its workers and their families fled the city. “Without a plan in place it would have been mayhem,” Cantner says. As CEDA’s vice president of the Fort McMurray region, Andrew Boutilier was in charge of CEDA’s emergency responses in the region. (The company also launched a parallel corporate response in Calgary to support the Fort Mac team.) “As you can appreciate, there’s one road in and one road out of Fort McMurray and a lot of our members were sent north and a lot were sent south,” Boutilier says. For CEDA, good communications certainly eased many tensions around the crisis. It set up a toll-free information line for employees to call for updates on returning to work and the city. “I was proud of the number of ways we communicated with employees. We also used emails, employee intranet and memos, and Facebook became a powerful tool for us,” says Bailey Quaite, CEDA’s
The people of our community have a real can-do attitude. When it comes to crisis management, I think industry and their contract partners have done a tremendous job of instilling that behaviour supervisor of Communications and Community Relations. “It was heart-warming to share stories with people. Real camaraderie surfaced.” Company employees had many stories to tell. One of the most compelling is about 55 of them who stayed in the city to help fight the fire and provide essential services. Some of the company’s water pump trucks hauled water to firefighters. Other trucks and equipment helped to diligently (and repeatedly, after it rained) flush ash, soot and debris from waterlines, storm sewers and catch basins. Restoring the water system was essential for people to return to Fort McMurray. Other stories include: CEDA teamed with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. to offer gas and sandwiches to evacuees stranded on highways. A CEDA water truck driver gave up his camp bed to sleep in his cab for three nights. A senior employee fought the fire in one neighbourhood while the Beast turned his home to ashes in another. Some CEDA employees were evacuated a second time after Suncor’s window of opportunity for startup closed as the Beast shifted and threatened camps. “We gave people the option to be with their families and it was remarkable—I’m getting goosebumps talking about it—how many wanted to stay behind,” Boutilier says. “You want to say ‘boy do I like going to work with these guys and gals,’ because they’re the true difference-makers in our operation. . . . It’s remarkable. People didn’t get mad. They offered to help. And they did it. I feel extremely proud.” The first four days after the evacuation “required a tremendous amount of coordination on all fronts, corporately and regionally, to ensure all our
We gave people the option to be with their families and it was remarkable— I’m getting goosebumps talking about it—how many wanted to stay behind
members were reunited with their families and they had proper communication when and where they landed,” Boutilier says. For those at the helm of CEDA’s incident response team, that meant knowing whether people ended up at an evacuation centre, a relative’s home, a cabin or cottage by a lake, or anywhere else in the country. Boutilier says “an incredible partnership with industry” meant CEDA could initially house many of its employees at Suncor’s Firebag camp. “We were able to provide safety and means—food, water, housing, air transport and busing—all through diligence, process and communication.” Employee logs, a standard practice at CEDA, also played a pivotal role in locating most employees before they left the city. By May 6, within 72 hours of the evacuation, CEDA’s incident response team knew the exact location of every employee. The team did this despite having to move its regional response centre to Edmonton. “I believe the people of our community have a real can-do attitude. When it comes to crisis management, I think industry and their contract partners have done a tremendous job of instilling that behaviour,” Boutilier says. (See his family’s personal story on page 30). “Obviously, building a culture of safety has made crisis management easy, if there’s such a thing as easy crisis management.”
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARK BLINCH
CEDA volunteers help flush fire retardant, ash, soot and other debris from water, storm and sewer lines so residents could return home.
The Fort McMurray fire would eventually
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARK BLINCH
burn more than 580,000 hectares.
Thousands of people fleeing the wild fire found accommodation at nearby oil sands camps. PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARK BLINCH
Frontline Fall 2016 27
Feature Water, food and other essentials were collected throughout Western Canada and shipped to evacuation centres in Lac La Biches, Edmonton, Calgary and other cities and towns. PHOTOGRAPHED BY COLE BURSTON
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARK BLINCH
CENOVUS With the Fort McMurray fire raging 70 kilometres away, Cenovus’ oil sands operations at Christina Lake were on high alert. The bigger threat for Cenovus was a new fire starting in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. High temperatures and low humidity turned vast tracts of forest into standing tinder. All it would have taken to ignite them was a careless spark or a strike of lightning. Neither materialized, although as a precaution Cenovus evacuated all its non-essential staff at Christina Lake between May 5 and 12 just the same. “If the wildfire activity of 2016 has shown us anything, it’s that we have the plans, people and provincial supports in place to respond safely, quickly and appropriately to wildfires,” says Drew Zieglgansberger, Cenovus’ executive vice president of Oil Sands Manufacturing. “Cenovus staff and teams, as well as those at our peer companies, showed tremendous composure and leadership when faced with the impacts of wildfires.”
Cenovus staff also showed tremendous community spirit, offering fuel, food, water and several camp lodgings. Company spokesperson Reg Curren says several Cenovus teams supported evacuees and responders. The Cenovus field accommodations team gave out more than 1,700 sandwiches, 1,100 bottles of water and 950 breakfasts at reception centres in Conklin and Lac La Biche. The company also offered evacuees short-term accommodation at its Elk’s Point camp and helped move evacuees to a nearby Indigenous community.
If the wildfire activity of 2016 has shown us anything, it’s that we have the plans, people and provincial supports in place to respond safely, quickly and appropriately to wildfires
The call for help came at 1:52 p.m. on May 3. The Fort McMurray Fire Department made a “mutual aid” request to Syncrude, asking the company to send a fire truck and firefighters. The fire department and several companies in the region have mutual aid agreements to assist one another as needed in emergencies. Similar agreements exist between municipalities, provinces and the federal government. The wildfire that had been burning for days around the city had suddenly and aggressively shifted course. A pumper truck, two emergency services fire specialists and an emergency services captain left Syncrude’s Mildred Lake site 10 minutes later. Over the coming days and weeks, Syncrude would continue to supply mutual aid. Syncrude’s firefighters and equipment worked at the frontlines of the fire in communities across the city. At times, they fought alongside crews from the Fort McMurray Fire Department and other companies and fire departments. At other times, they were the sole line of defence to contain, extinguish and break the fire, and to protect people and property.
First responders welcome the first wave of returning Fort McMurray residents on June 1,
almost a month after the city was evacuated. PHOTGRAPHED BY COLE BURSTON
The fire forced the company to shutdown for the first time in 38 years. But first, the company housed 1,500 people at its Mildred Lake Camp and responded with the following equipment and crews.
Syncrude's shutdown was a large and complex operation that had to be planned and sequenced. The company couldn't just throw a switch and walk away “There were many individual acts of courage and there were corporate contributions, too,” says Syncrude spokesperson Will Gibson. “It was a very fluid situation and we helped where needed.”
Amidst the large-scale firefighting and evacuation, on May 7 the pioneering oil sands producer was forced to do something it hadn’t done in 38 years. Shut down.
When thousands of Fort McMurray residents needed safe shelter from the fire, Syncrude also opened its Mildred Lake camp. At the peak of the evacuation effort, the camp housed some 1,500 men, women and children and an unknown number of family pets.
“It was a very large and complex operation. . . . It all had to be sequenced properly and was done in advance to make sure we had time to get people out,” Gibson says of the precautionary move. “We couldn’t just flip a switch and walk away.”
“It was extraordinary,” Gibson says. “We focused on getting people out and worked with different partners and agencies to fly them out.” He points out Syncrude “wasn’t the only oil sands operator to evacuate people.” Companies turned their private airstrips into public transportation hubs, and airlines of all sizes brought in a variety of airplanes to fly people to Edmonton International, the nearest major airport.
He says the shutdown was completed without injury or any major concern for equipment. The site’s startup took weeks. “Getting online again was a large and complex process,” Gibson says. “We’ve taken our time. It’s about safety and it’s about getting it right.” It’s the same approach others throughout the community have taken and will take in the months ahead in the region’s long and painstaking recovery.
pumper fire truck multi-lift fire truck fire hose retrieval and fire hose module firefighting foam module mobile command bus 2,500-gallon water tanker fuel truck
fire brigade members.
firefighting vehicles 3,000-gallon-a-minute portable fire pumps all-wheel drive aircraft fire rescue trucks mine leaders
emergency services personnel, including fire specialists, mechanics and emergency service leaders
Frontline Fall 2016
Tuesday May 3, 2016, began as an ordinary workday for Andrew and Tracy Boutilier. He went to his office in Fort McMurray’s south end. Tracy, a nurse, headed downtown to the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.
WRITTEN BY LAVONNE BOUTCHER PHOTOGRAPHED BY JASON FRANSON
That afternoon, the entire city was evacuated. More than 90,000 people scrambled to escape a massive forest fire. “Everything was moving so fast,” recalls Andrew.Hewouldn’tseehisfamily foranother24hours. As most parents rushed to pick up their children and leave town, Andrew and Tracy stayed on the job. The vice president of regional operations for CEDA, a major oil and gas service company, he oversaw the company’s safe evacuation of 1,371 employees and five buildings. By the time he left work, the city’s main highway was closed and he had to flee south. “The hard part for me was seeing all our employees leave to meet their families with tears rolling down their faces,” Andrew says. Meanwhile at the hospital, Tracy helped ready more than 100 patients and long-term care residents for evacuation.
Left to right, Tracy, Katherine, Jack and Andrew Boutilier on Canada Day 2016. The Fort McMurray family says the fire that swept through their city taught them to take safety more seriously.
NO ORDINARY DAY
A friend picked up the couple’s children, Jack and Katherine, and nanny and drove them to safety north of the city. “Once I knew my kids were with my friend, I was fine. I was in game mode to get everybody out of the hospital safe and sound, and then find my kids.” After the hospital had emptied, Tracy joined them. The next morning she and the children headed south to meet Andrew. The drive took nine hours. “It was such a relief. You just couldn’t wrap your head around what just happened,” Tracy says. The Boutiliers returned home a month later, relieved their home was undamaged, but saddened the fire destroyed parts of their community. Both say the experience taught them to take safety more seriously. Andrew says they now keep their vehicles full of gas, their cellphones charged and they talk more about safety at home. The couple also saw the good that comes when people step up to “get the job done” in a crisis. “I think that’s the way Fort McMurray goes. We’re a work hard, play hard kind of community.”
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Published on Oct 10, 2016
Special Feature: Oil & Gas Industry Fights the Beast It began with a spark and quickly became the “Beast.” The fierce and unforgiving wildf...