Alyeska and City of Valdez agree to plan for joint firefighting response

By AUSTIN LOVE
Council Project Manager

Alyeska’s new fire and rescue engine, known as “Squad 1,” is at the terminal and ready for action. Photo courtesy of Alyeska.
Alyeska’s new fire and rescue engine, known as “Squad 1,” is at the terminal and ready for action. Photo courtesy of Alyeska.

In December, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company and the City of Valdez agreed to a plan for the Alyeska Fire Brigade and the Valdez Fire Department to work together to fight fires. This agreement defines the roles, relationships, jurisdiction, and responsibilities of the two parties in advance of an emergency. The agreement provides the framework for a coordinated emergency response within Valdez city limits.

The council supports the agreement as it will improve the ability of Alyeska Fire Brigade and the Valdez Fire Department to work in coordination both on and off Valdez Marine Terminal property. The agreement will help limit the possible loss of life and property in the event of an emergency, and decrease the potential environmental impacts of a fire at the terminal.

The agreement says that the Alyeska Fire Brigade may assist the Valdez Fire Department during an emergency within the city limits but off of Alyeska property. While not required to do so, Alyeska may provide emergency assistance to the City of Valdez, if a number of conditions are met. Foremost, their service must be specifically requested by the Valdez Fire Department and Alyeska must be able to maintain their minimum required fire and rescue staffing levels at the terminal even while assisting the City of Valdez. Alyeska will not charge the city for emergency services under this agreement.

The agreement also provides a framework outlining how the Valdez Fire Department responds to emergencies on the terminal. Since the terminal is within city limits, the Valdez Fire Department is responsible for responding to emergency calls and requests for assistance from Alyeska. The new framework defines:

  • site security measures;
  • joint incident management procedures;
  • pre-emergency site familiarization;
  • state and federal safety standards;
  • Valdez Fire Department review of Alyeska’s plans and procedures for fire and rescue.

The council has supported increased coordination and cooperation between these two organizations for many years. Since the early 2000’s, the council has been advocating for better cooperation and coordination between the Valdez Fire Department and the Alyeska Fire Brigade. A 2006 council study by Loss Control Associates Inc. found that the ability of the two departments to work together had greatly improved through effective leadership and joint training. While cooperation was improving, no formalized working agreement was in place. In 2012, another council study by Haines Fire and Risk Consulting recommended Valdez and Alyeska develop a firefighting agreement.

“The council spent a number of years advocating that firefighting and emergency response services be addressed,” said Donna Schantz, the council’s acting executive director. “We commend Alyeska and the City of Valdez for entering into this memorandum of understanding.”

“Having a formal agreement like this MOU is considered a best practice in our industry, and I believe that training and increased coordination between the City of Valdez Fire Department and Alyeska Fire and Rescue team brings a value to our community; it makes us all safer,” said Sean Wisner, team captain for Alyeska’s Fire and Rescue.