An assignment with British Columbia’s wildfire response organization was an important and positive opportunity for Kelly Malinoski.

Malinoski recently worked a six-day shift at BC’s Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre (PECC) in Victoria after being seconded from her regular duties as Manager of Emergency Management for Kinder Morgan Canada Limited (KML). She joined a team of about 100 people working out of Emergency Management BC’s offices in Victoria supporting provincial Wildfire Service efforts.

“PECC is the central coordination and provincial leadership level of the organization. This is the response group that prioritizes provincial government objectives and leads the overall provincial response,” Malinoski said.

“It also serves as the coordination and communication link with the other response levels and the federal disaster support system. There were people there from all sectors including the federal government.”

Her tasks included documenting fire response actions and briefing PECC members about industry critical infrastructure and activities in areas threatened by fire — as well as the potential consequences for BC of a prolonged shutdown of KML’s Trans Mountain Pipeline. The pipeline delivers about 90 per cent of the motor fuel used daily by residents of southwestern BC.

The BC Wildfire Service is describing the 2017 wildfire season as the worst since record-keeping began in 1950, and a province-wide state of emergency was declared in mid-July.

Malinoski has been trained in the Incident Command Structure (ICS) system used by BC to coordinate its response to wildfires and other provincial emergencies. KML has developed a robust Emergency Management Program, with detailed emergency response plans in place, and regularly carries out response exercises with government and non-government agencies in BC, Alberta and Washington State.

“When I walked through the door at the coordination centre, I was no longer an employee of Kinder Morgan, I was an employee of the BC government fire response organization. It shows how far industry has come in its own training and relationship building that the trust is there to lend support to the government’s response efforts when needed,” Malinoski said. 

“We want to be there for our communities, and I’m proud that KML supported this effort in such a positive way.”

“I was there to work in whatever capacity BC needed to support its response to the wildfires. This is how ICS is supposed to work. It did not matter who was processing my paycheque.

“It was a positive experience that enabled me to to better understand emergency response from the government perspective. I believe Kinder Morgan’s support allowed for a better understanding on all sides.”

Malinoski said her ICS training, which is a core component of KML’s Emergency Management Program, made it easy to integrate into PECC’s command structure.

“I believe this experience will strengthen Kinder Morgan’s emergency response program as we have gained a better understanding of how the province will respond and the kinds of information they will be seeking, should there ever be an emergency involving our infrastructure.

“We will be able to anticipate their requests and hopefully be proactive in our relationship with them.

“It was also good to better understand the Emergency Social Services process and to better support our local governments if a response related to the Trans Mountain Pipeline system were ever required. As a result of this experience, we can look at our own programs to ensure we are staffed appropriately to support members of the public displaced from their homes during an emergency.”

Jamie Kereliuk, Kinder Morgan Emergency Management Director, said the company was very pleased to contribute to the effort, adding that it was “a great opportunity.”

“I knew that Kelly would represent us very well,” Kereliuk said. “Industry has a lot of knowledge and experience in emergency management, and we applauded the province’s decision to involve this very large base of expertise in support of communities affected by the wildfire situation.

“We are always willing to work together with government to support the communities we operate in. Mutual aid and support in an emergency is a fundamental principle of our company’s own Emergency Management Program.”