Feb
27
2013
Volume
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A different side of the 24 hour Oil Sands clock

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY Brandon Cooper

When one thinks of jobs in the oil sands, there are some that typically spring to mind immediately – engineer, millwright, heavy equipment operator, and more. But there is a group of men and women working in the oil sands that you do not typically think of, who are there each and every day and night, working around the clock to ensure everyone returns home safely at the end of the shift – emergency services.

Essentially, all of the major oil sands operators have their own fire departments right on site with crews that are fully staffed and trained to respond to emergency situations of all kinds. They have all of the same equipment you would find at a typical fire hall, including fire trucks, pumps, ladders, and ambulances.

 “Anyone on our site receives the same high standard of service they expect for themselves and family when at home,” said Clark Esler, manager of Oil Sands and In Situ Emergency Services for Suncor Energy. “We have the equipment and training to respond to any incident; emergency preparedness and prevention are key to making sure our site and workers are safe.”

The oil sands emergency services teams also have some equipment you would not find at a typical fire hall. For example, all sites have fire trucks outfitted with large capacity pumps and equipment designed specifically for the mining terrain. This specialized fire equipment is required to help maintain safe operations at what are arguably some of the largest mining and upgrading facilities in the world. 

You do not have to just work at site to see or feel the benefits of the oil sands emergency services teams, as Suncor, Syncrude, CNRL, and Shell, along with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, have a mutual aid partnership agreement with each other. This means they may assist each other with emergencies that occur on any of the four properties, or those incidents that occur off-site that are in close proximity to their operations.

“The Mutual Aid agreement is a significant document for all stakeholders,” said Darby Allen, regional fire chief with the municipality’s Regional Emergency Services.

“Moreover, it signifies a long standing and established relationship between those groups. Regional Emergency Services welcomes that relationship both in the present and the future. All parties have demonstrated their willingness to assist each other in times of need, and in often tough economic times, that commitment should be applauded.”

The respect and camaraderie of the different emergency services teams extends even beyond the mutual aid agreement, as they often have joint planning sessions, training, and events. This is one group of Wood Buffalo residents who truly show the many great sides of our community, and are examples of the diversity of the oil sands.

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