Enbridge-built training tool bolsters Ontario firefighters' response prowess

Custom prop will help Kingston Fire and Rescue in the event of a pipeline incident

Years ago, a team of Kingston, Ont., firefighters was summoned to an emergency at a fuel storage complex. The crisis? A leaking valve in one of the storage units – a leak that, if ignited, could cause major disaster.

Kingston Fire and Rescue Chief Rheaume Chaput, then a firefighter, recalls arriving on scene – and being met with a type of valve he had never seen before. A false step could be catastrophic. Working together, the firefighters confined the leak, closed off the valve, and contained the leaking fuel.

While the situation was resolved, its memory is still with Chief Chaput: “I recall not understanding the type of valve and how the liquid was coming out. It could have turned into a substantial fire and been a major, major event.”

To help train firefighters at Kingston Fire and Rescue to be prepared for such a situation, should it ever arise again, Enbridge has designed and built a custom training prop to simulate leaks and ruptures of hazardous materials.

“If we had (a pipeline) incident near Kingston, these firefighters would be the primary first responders who would support us with the response. Having them have some familiarity with pipelines, valves, and pressure augments their efficiency and safety,” says Ken Hall, Enbridge’s Ontario-based Senior Advisor of Public Affairs.

Brock Van Gaver, a welder at Enbridge’s Sarnia Terminal, built the prop, which he designed with David Clarke – a former firefighter who’s now Enbridge’s Eastern Region Emergency Response Coordinator.

The final product: a purpose-built, one-of-a-kind training prop to help firefighters respond safely to hazardous leaks.

“The prop allows us to visualize and touch different types of gates and valves . . . and practise some of our hazardous material responses,” says Chief Chaput. “It will educate our firefighters – so when they come across something like I did in my past, they’ll be better prepared to make informed decisions.”

The training tool, a T-shaped structure that Kingston Fire and Rescue has affectionately nicknamed the Leak Monster, was built from scrap materials at Enbridge’s Sarnia Terminal. Firefighters can simulate a pressurized leak and practise their response.

Kingston Fire and Rescue previously received a $15,000 Safe Community grant from Enbridge in 2013 to purchase equipment for the organization’s new training centre, due to open in 2016; Enbridge also contributed $7,500 in 2014 for a concrete pad to house the prop.

“Using the prop, we’re able to apply theoretical knowledge from the classroom to a practical situation, and we’re able to do it safely,” says John Cross, Kingston Fire and Rescue’s regional training centre manager.

Adds Hall: “That’s what Safe Community is all about — augmenting the safety of responders by providing them with resources that will keep them safe in a real-world emergency.”