Prepared, no matter the conditions

May 5, 2015

Partnerships with local emergency services ensure a safe working environment for all TransAlta employees

Unpredictable weather

Weather conditions can be unpredictable and extreme at New Richmond wind farm, located on the Gaspé Peninsula in Québec. A new partnership with local emergency services means first responders are prepared and employees feel safe, no matter the weather.

“Weather conditions at our wind farm are not what these first responders normally have to deal with,” says Jonathan Henry, operations supervisor, New Richmond wind farm. “Wind turbines are placed at a high altitude and in areas that can be quite remote in order to get the best wind possible.”

The right equipment for the job

A series of donations totaling approximately $10,000 meant New Richmond’s fire department was able to purchase an automatic chain system for their emergency service unit, a rescue stretcher for saving people at heights and a snowmobile for extreme weather. With this equipment, first responders can be better prepared.

“In addition to the donation, we collaborated with New Richmond Fire Department on an emergency exercise with the new equipment and reviewed our plans for a variety of scenarios these first responders may have to face,” says Henry.

Practicing for any emergency

Over the winter months, when conditions were at their worst, New Richmond employees along with the local fire department practiced an evacuation scenario with the new chain system. The system prevents the tires from spinning in the snow and ice, improving traction in extreme conditions for the fire truck. The scenario, where an employee needed to be evacuated from the furthest turbine, 28 kilometers away, could normally take over an hour. Thanks to the collaboration with the fire department and the new equipment, it was completed in 35 minutes.

“New Richmond’s fire department wants to thank TransAlta for their participation in the safety of our community and helping us acquire the necessary equipment for rescuing people in distress,” says Patrick Boudreau, director at New Richmond’s fire department. “This donation allows us to provide a better service for the entire area.”

This is just one example of how TransAlta prepares for any emergency to make sure all employees are working in a safe environment.

As part of National Emergency Preparedness Week (May 3-9), we are reviewing our risks and practicing our plans. “It gives us great comfort to know that New Richmond’s fire department is capable and equipped to respond to the needs of employees at the site and to the people in the community,” says Gary Woods, vice-president, Gas & Renewables.

Banner: the rescue stretcher purchased with TransAlta’s donation


L to R: Alain Henry, TransAlta operations technician; Jonathan Henry, TransAlta operations supervisor; Eric Dube, New Richmond mayor; Patrick Boudreau, fire fighter director


Below: the automatic chain system