Rural Emergency Plan announced for Alberta landowners
March 18, 2008:
The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company (AEFP) and the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA) have launched a new safety program aimed at protecting rural landowners, their families and emergency personnel in the event of a fire or other emergency.
The Rural Emergency Plan (REP) is an emergency response map that each participant fills out for their own location. It is stored in a simple ABS tube holder typically mounted on the main power pole or other central area where it can be easily identified and accessed by emergency personnel. It was designed based on input from farmers and emergency personal to help save time and lives.
"We think that this program is a win on many different levels," says Peter Krich, fire chief for the city of Camrose which piloted the program. "If the landowner fills out the map that means they have a plan in place to protect themselves. But this also helps us as emergency responders because we know if there are chemicals or other hazards. It means we’re not heading into the unknown."
The REP typically includes the essential information to quickly and accurately deal with an emergency, either personal safety or environmental. That includes a map, of the farmstead, a runoff map, emergency phone numbers, a checklist and other key information emergency personnel might need to make fast and effective decisions.
The program was developed based on part of the environmental farm plan (EFP) process in which farmers are required to develop an emergency plan. With no existing tool in place, AEFP worked with AFCA, with financial support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, to develop a pilot emergency plan, and then tested it on farms in two areas of the province in 2007. The program received positive feedback from farmers, and the support from the provincial fire chiefs, with 900 tubes distributed. The current REP has been extended to rural landowners because, as Krich says, they are a unique audience in the case of an emergency.
"We’ve spent a lot of time in urban areas talking about exit plans, getting out and staying out, and other messaging," he says. "But while that’s still relevant to rural homes, there are some differences. There are often a number of buildings other than the home, and chemicals and other potential hazards are stored on site. This program helps to make sure that the locations of all of those hazards are identified."
The REP process is simple and user-friendly. Participants access an instruction kit and construction design from their local fire department or from the Web. The kit includes an REP template as well as instructions on how participants can build their own storage tubes. Landowners should then contact their local fire department to let them know where the plan is located in the event of an emergency.
"This program is primarily about safety," says Krich. "When we first launched the pilot program, I was speaking to a group of 300 and when I asked, none of them had an emergency plan in place. Each one of those landowners now has the information to do an REP and we hope that this success will spread province-wide, so an emergency situation doesn’t turn tragic."
For more information on the REP and for production guidelines, visit the AEFP Web site at www.AlbertaEFP.com and click on the REP icon, or contact your local fire department. The tubes are also being promoted as a fundraising opportunity for groups interested in selling them. More information on fundraising is available from local fire departments.