Safety Advisory: Ministerial Order MO 21-06
July 15, 2021
Following recent events in Lytton BC, Transport Canada issued Ministerial Order MO 21-06. That Order requires that certain actions be taken by impacted railways during periods of extreme heat and/or when fire risk dangers are high. The Order further details processes that impacted railways must take in formulating changes to their fire risk mitigation plans to account for extreme heat and fire danger conditions.
Extreme heat and fire danger conditions may be present in BC where provincially regulated railways are undertaking operations. Accordingly, while Transport Canada MO 21-06 contains requirements for specified federally regulated railway operations both in BC and across Canada, the fundamental aspects of the Order pertaining to risk prevention and mitigation are considered best practices for provincially regulated railway companies in BC.
More specifically, it is expected that rail operations in BC will continue to comply with the Prevention and Control of Fires on Line Works Regulation and have a fire preparedness plan as set out in the regulation. Railway fire risk mitigation plans should specifically address both prevention and damage control measures that railway companies will undertake in the presence of extreme heat and/or fire danger conditions. Those plans should be tailored to individual railway operations and reflect a thorough analysis of the real risks that may be present for, and possibly unique to, the potential causes and impacts of fires as they are related to company-specific railway operations.
MO 21-06 also contains requirements concerning consultation efforts that must be undertaken by railways with respect to communities that may be impacted by fires that arise in relation to their railway operations. Consultations with impacted communities regarding prevention and mitigation of fires is also considered best practice in BC (where applicable).
Railway companies are therefore advised that their fire risk mitigation plans should address extreme heat and/or fire danger conditions should the possibility of either of those situations exist for their operations. In the event that neither situation is applicable to the railway, this should be referenced in the railway’s safety management system with an explanation as to why specific plans for extreme heat and/or fire danger situations are not warranted in the circumstances. As part of the Technical Safety BC regulatory oversight model, documentation specific to this issue may be requested for review at any time.
Technical Leader, Railway
Technical Safety BC