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Crofton mill, fire department working together to prepare for the worst

Catalyst mill co-ordinates its emergency response with the Crofton Volunteer Fire Department. -
Catalyst mill co-ordinates its emergency response with the Crofton Volunteer Fire Department.
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It’s an old adage: hope for the best, plan for the worst.

And that’s exactly what the folks at Catalyst in Crofton are doing, with help from North Cowichan and the Crofton Volunteer Fire Department.

The three organizations have been meeting for the past few months to look at Catalyst’s emergency response procedures.

“We’re working together so that during any rescue incident we may need their help on, we both have a good understanding of what’s expected,” said Robert Belanger, general manager at the Crofton mill.

“Two significant procedures have already been addressed and there are a few others we continue to work on.”

North Cowichan had called for more clarification on certain issues a few months ago.

“It is important to North Cowichan that our volunteer firefighters are not exposed to any unnecessary risk due to a lack of clarity as to their role in an incident on the Catalyst site,” North Cowichan CAO Dave Devana wrote in a letter to Catalyst dated May 27.

That clarity is being mapped out now, and Belanger added Catalyst’s incident command system is endorsed by government, first response organizations and industry.

“It gives us a clear method for organizing response, identifying the resources required for incident-specific management, and mobilizing assistance if required,” Belanger explained.

The incident command team brings together Catalyst staff, municipal, regional and provincial first responders plus third-party contractors with specialized skills.

“While there could be situations when outside assistance is required, our emergency response team is fully trained to take the lead on handling situations at the mill, including chemical spills and/or fall rescue,” Belanger added. “We do regular training exercises and have an alliance with contractors, such as Burrard Clean, who are spill response experts.”

Talks between the mill, the municipal and firefighters, meanwhile, continue.

“It’s a work-in-progress with certain things worked out, and other talks still going on,” Crofton fire chief Lee Burridge said, adding the parties are all working well together.

“It’s more about setting up policy and operation guidelines. Each one has to be addressed separately.”

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