Our vision at ERAC is to be the highest quality emergency preparedness and response assistance organization in Canada. For the past 37 years, we have worked to meet the needs of our over 300 members by developing and responding to their emergency plans for products that include flammable liquids, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), hydrogen, liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas and ammonia.
For us to successfully achieve our goals means holding regular training and assessments of our over 20 partner response organizations to ensure our response teams are well-trained and prepared to act at any time, anywhere. In addition to our commitment to training our responder network, ERAC provides training and education to Canadian-based first responders on how to safely respond to dangerous goods incidents. These training initiatives ensure public and first responder safety, and a regulatory compliant response for those Plan Participant members who activate their Emergency Response Assistance Plans.
To date, we have completed a half dozen Regional Training and Assessments, along with three LPG Level 1 Operations Firefighting Training sessions. These training events are successful when participants can work in meaningful, “real-world” conditions with live fuel products, equipment and locations. Achieving this level of training requires support from organizations that can provide products (fuel), equipment and/or locations for our various exercises. Special thanks to CN, AltaGas Ltd. and Pembina Pipeline Corporation, who have sponsored multiple ERAC training sessions in recent months that have greatly benefited both our response teams and local firefighters across the country. Your support is greatly appreciated!
At ERAC, our members count on us to provide a safe and effective emergency response, whenever and wherever an incident occurs in Canada. To this end, we continue to take steps to fortify our emergency response capabilities in strategic regions of the country.
We have now added seven contracted Transport Canada-verified Technical Advisors to ERAC, covering British Columbia (1), Alberta (1), Saskatchewan (1), Manitoba (1), northwestern Ontario (1) and southern Ontario (2). These are in addition to our three full-time ERAC Technical Advisors and two previously contracted Technical Advisors in British Columbia and Manitoba. ERAC also expects an additional three full-time Technical Advisors will be verified by Transport Canada in the near future.
These additional Technical Advisors further strengthen the capacity and continuity of our emergency response capabilities by creating coverage overlaps in key, high-traffic areas of the country.
In 2016, Leo Sichewski, a valued 24-year veteran of ERAC, passed away. Leo trained, coached and mentored many responders over the years and was well known for his patience, understanding and commitment to lifelong learning. In memory of Leo, ERAC created the Leo Sichewski Memorial Bursary fund which allows ERAC responders, Plan Participants, and family members of the two previously mentioned groups, to access up to $2,000 annually for educational purposes.
This year, for the second year in a row, ERAC has awarded the Leo Sichewski Memorial Bursary to two recipients -- Branden Negrich and Donovan Montgomery.
The son of a professional firefighter, Branden’s exposure to, and interest in, emergency response began at a very early age.
“I remember my dad dropping me off at school in a marked ‘fire’ vehicle and the other kids buzzing about how he had the coolest job in the world,” said Branden. “Growing up in that environment, hearing his stories, and learning about the profession had a dramatic impact on my career and career path.”
After completing firefighter training at Lakeland Emergency Training Centre in 2017, and four years as an Industrial Firefighter in the oil fields, Branden’s career focus shifted to hazardous materials response. In 2022, he enrolled in the University of Calgary’s Occupational Health and Safety Program and accepted a position as an Environmental Emergency Response Technician with QM Environmental.
“My studies in occupational health and safety have given me a strong foundation in the principles of OH&S, chemical safety, hazard identification, risk assessment and control measures,” added Branden. “This knowledge will be invaluable as I work to identify and evaluate the potential risks associated with hazardous materials in the workplace and develop strategies to minimize these risks.”
“I believe that my skills, knowledge and life-long passion for safety and emergency management will enable me to make a positive impact on society and help prevent or mitigate the impact of emergencies.”
Donovan began his professional career as an Industrial Firefighter before accepting a position as a hazardous materials responder with QM Environmental. As a Lead Emergency Response Hazmat Technician with QM Environmental, Donovan is responsible for leading teams in containing, cleaning up and decontaminating hazardous materials spills.
“The great thing about my job is every day is different and that’s what I really love,” said Donovan. “My goal is to build on the passion I have for the work I do and put myself in a position where I’m able to develop the plans and procedures that directly affect myself and my co-workers on the ground.”
To achieve this goal, Donovan recently enrolled in Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Disaster and Emergency Management program, which provides students with the knowledge and tools required to be able to plan and manage complex disaster and emergency events.
“A career in emergency management to me means potentially saving somebody’s life, family or world they have built,” added Donovan. “I believe my studies, combined with my hands-on experience, will give me a unique perspective when I create the plans and objectives that are implemented during an emergency.”
Congratulations to both bursary award winners!