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Fire truck, boat considered in case of disaster at Richmond jet fuel tank farm

The City of Richmond currently depends on the Vancouver Fire Boat Service, but that costs about $100,000 per event.
Artist’s rendering of the new marine terminal and fuel receiving facility on the south arm of the Fraser River

With the controversial jet fuel tank farm currently under construction in south Richmond, Richmond Fire-Rescue has been researching options to mitigate a possible oil spill or boat fire at the operation.

Options include a $1.9 million industrial fire truck, a $2.2 million medium-sized fire boat or a large fire boat that could cost between $10 and $25 million.

The Vancouver Airport Fuel Facility and its pipeline, that runs 13 kilometres through Richmond from the airport to the end of No. 6 Road, will rely on tankers to bring in fuel that will then be pumped to YVR.

The risk assessment of the jet fuel tank farm is “high impact/low probability,” meaning it’s unlikely there would be a fire or a spill, but if there were, it would have a significant impact on the city.

According to a report from the fire chief, Tim Wilkinson, it’s expected a Panamax-sized vessel will be needed to bring oil to the facility.

Panamax-sized vessels are designed to go through the original Panama Canal (which has been expanded in recent years) and are about 950 feet long.

Richmond city council opposed the jet fuel tank farm, but they asked any funds the city receives from the consortium building it be used for emergency response.

The land-based option for a spill or a fire suggested by the fire department is a high-flow industrial pumper fire truck that could also be used in major disasters, for semi tractor-trailer fires on the highway and any aircraft fire away from the airport.

This industrial pumper truck would cost about $1.9 million, compared to a traditional pumper that costs about $1.1 million.

The City of Richmond currently depends on the Vancouver Fire Boat service to help fight fires on water – this has been used twice in the past 10 years at a cost of $100,000 per event.

Richmond could continue to depend on the Vancouver service, or spend $2.2 million to buy a similar boat, which would add $250,000 in annual operating costs.

This boat could also be used for shoreline fires, marina fires, fires aboard medium-sized vessels and for emergencies on water.

The third option is to buy a large fire boat, but its cost would be between $10 and $25 million, and, as there aren’t any currently in use locally, city staff couldn’t estimate its operating costs.

This boat could fight a fire on a large vessel, but it would be too large to fight fires at the tank farm or in the city’s marinas.

The report on fighting fires and oil spills will come to Monday’s general-purposes meeting.


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