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Hosing down Michels vulnerability

Pipeline camp gets consent for village fire protection

The flames kept growing in heat and intensity. The fire started small but was growing quickly. A call was placed to the Burns Lake Fire and Rescue Department (BLFRD) but the air was silent of any sirens. The fire was outside, slowly eating a company bus and it was fully consumed before fire trucks arrived – because they never did.

It was the same story only a couple of days prior when the same address had a kitchen fire that did little more than set off smoke alarms. Had it been worse, the result for the entire 7 Mile Camp facility might have been similar to the bus out in the parking lot, a parking lot not too far from town but well outside of Burns Lake’s fire protection boundaries.

The primary contractor, Michels Pipelines, had only been on-site a matter of months, but other contract companies had been there before, for more than a year. Michels officials called BLFRD officials for a hot conversation.

“They thought we would show up and were rather surprised to find out we had never been asked to enter into a fire protection agreement,” said Rob Krause, director of protection services at the Village of Burns Lake, laying out a proposal made by Michels to mayor and council.

Krause explained that the lack of fire protection agreement was not a matter of thoughtlessness on the subject. There was concern, on the part of the past contractors, over potential community impacts. They didn’t want to have BLFRD dispatch to a fire at their site and then leave Burns Lake unattended.

Not to worry. Two local sawmills and a pellet plant all have special agreements with BLFRD to come to their aid in case of fire, and in turn, BLFRD has protocols in place to ensure the town is still protected.

The proposal to town council was for Michels to pay an annual fee of $8,000 in exchange for 12 person-days per year of consultation from senior members of BLFRD on topics like fire prevention, training, inspections, etc.

“It also gets them the command vehicle and a senior officer to respond to assist with an emergency at no additional cost,” Krause said. “All other apparatus that respond are billed out at provincial government rates. As an example of those rates, for the Type 1 engine to respond out there is an additional $638 per hour. Those are the exact same agreements that we have with the other industrial operations that surround the community. They would actually be the closest of the four we would be protecting.”

The additional consideration, said Krause, is the rules pertaining to road rescue. The BLFRD has much different borders for that service, which would include almost all of Michel’s worksite locations.

“That will continue whether we enter into this agreement or not. It is in our road rescue area. Really this is just about supplying fire resources to the camp. I don’t see it as a burden we can’t handle,” said Krause.

Council agreed and voted to enter into the fire protection agreement with Michels.