Trans Mountain fire audit 'absolutely unacceptable,' Burnaby mayor says

“Trans Mountain is confident in its emergency response programs," company says

It could take Trans Mountain six hours to respond to a major fire at one of its facilities, according to a newly released report.

“This is absolutely unacceptable,” Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley said in a statement.

The report was commissioned by the National Energy Board (now known as the Canada Energy Regulator, or CER) in 2016 from PLC Fire Safety Solutions but was made public this month via a Freedom of Information request by the NDP candidate in Burnaby North-Seymour, Svend Robinson. 

“For years, Burnaby’s fire department has been highlighting to the federal government’s National Energy Board the many significant public safety risks posed by the tank farm on Burnaby Mountain – by both the existing tanks and those now proposed to be added as part of the federal government’s Trans Mountain expansion project,” Hurley, a former firefighter, said. 

While the report finds Tran Mountain complies with many fire safety requirements, it also states the company does not have a mutual aid agreement with the Burnaby Fire Department.

“Currently, the emergency management program states that a minimum of eight emergency responders will be on site within six hours of confirmation of an incident. The firefighting assumptions in the National Building Code of Canada state that emergency response will be available within 30 minutes to prevent fire spread,” the report states.

In a statement to the NOW, Trans Mountain said the six-hour timeframe relates to “planning standards, not response times.

“At our terminals, we are ready to respond immediately with people and equipment. The planning standards represent the time it could take for us to get fully mobilized in a worst-case scenario and would include getting outside contractors and equipment on site.”

The company also said it would “welcome” a mutual aid agreement with the city. 

“Trans Mountain is confident in its emergency response programs and its ability to safely manage any situation that may arise supported by our on-site equipment, personnel, training, knowledge and partnerships with expert organizations on contract to assist.”

The company says PLC’s review was conducted using the wrong standards and that it has addressed all “deficiencies” that were accepted as relevant by the CER. 

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