Four practices that help keep pipelines safe during fire season

Wildfire season is off to an early start in parts of Canada, raising concerns about what the rest of the year will bring. Communities have already faced evacuations, and some energy companies have been forced to shut down facilities for safety reasons. So far, transmission pipeline operations have not been affected, however members of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) are prepared for any eventuality.

Pipeline companies are always on the lookout for threats


With more than 118 thousand kilometres of transmission pipelines stretching across the country, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) members plan and prepare for every conceivable emergency. They practice frequently… with their own teams, with first responders and even with their competitors. And they’re on the lookout – every second of every day – for any threats that could impact the safety of their systems.

So, when there’s a wildfire nearby, pipeline operators know what to do to protect the safety of the community, employees and infrastructure.


Four practices that help keep pipelines safe during fires


  1. Pipelines and related facilities are designed and maintained to meet all safety standards.
    • Isolation or ‘block’ valves are used to shut off sections of the pipeline if or when a fire gets close.
    • Emergency shut down protection procedures are in place at every facility to isolate them from the mainline in case of a fire. These procedures include automatic fire detection systems.


  2. Vegetation and brushing programs are key to damage prevention.
    • Underground pipeline facilities are at lower risk from forest fires. However, keeping rights-of-way (ROWs) clear of major vegetation means less fuel if a forest fire passes over, and also provides visual access for aerial patrols.
    • Pipeline operators must also ensure their above ground facilities are surrounded by non-flammable materials, such as gravel.


  3. Prepare. Practice.
    • All pipeline companies have comprehensive emergency response plans and conduct emergency response exercises to prepare for a variety of situations.
    • CEPA members held 542 emergency response exercises in 2017, ranging in complexity from emergency drills to full-scale exercises.


  4. Strong working relationships with partners and first responders.


Wildfires are especially unforgiving – they wreak havoc on lives and communities. CEPA’s members are confident in their ability to keep people, communities and their facilities safe during natural disasters, such as wildfires, by having plans and preparations at their fingertips to deal with these potentially devastating hazards.

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