Annual Report 2018

Fort McMurray Wildfire Cleanup Team 20 18 AP EGA Env i ronment and Susta i nab i l i ty Summ i t Award R ec i p i ent Steve Taylor, P.Geo., Project Director Gregory Parker, P.Eng., Project Manager Josh Ruud, P.Eng. Project Coordinator

a project team of more than 100 people resolved to get homes cleaned up as quickly as possible, so reconstruction could begin before winter. “The project progressed at break-neck speed, with endless unexpected twists and turns. Having a group of that size work with such purpose and focus, to cleanup the houses as quickly and as professionally as possible, made me really proud of all the people involved,” says Mr. Ruud. Over the next two months, the team worked closely with 50 subcontractors to remove ash and recycle waste from 980 damaged properties. Of the nearly 203,000 tonnes of waste removed, more than 70 per cent was reused or recycled. To keep the project on track, a database was developed to efficiently allocate resources and streamline communication with contractors, local government, and utility companies. Over two months, 71,000 milestones were tracked, or about 580 a day. But all the hard work was nothing compared to what residents had gone through, says Mr. Ruud. “Seeing how the thousands of citizens were able to persevere, through what I can only imagine were some of the most challenging months of their lives, really gave me insight to the resiliency and resolve that people are capable of.”

For Josh Ruud, P.Eng., working on the Fort McMurray wildfire cleanup was an amazing experience—but also one he hopes will never be repeated. He was an engineer-in-training when the disaster struck in May 2016, forcing the evacuation of the city’s 88,000 residents and destroying 2,500 homes. Along with colleagues Steve Taylor, P.Geo., and Gregory Parker, P.Eng., he led the Fort McMurray Wildfire Cleanup Team, whose outstanding efforts to quickly remediate fire damaged homes, with minimal environmental impact, was recognized with APEGA’s 2018 Environment and Sustainability Summit Award. Before joining the team, Mr. Ruud got involved in relief efforts as a so-called “highway angel,” helping evacuees stranded after running out of fuel. His logistical skills also came in handy when he signed up as a volunteer with Edmonton Emergency Relief Services, helping design a system to quickly and efficiently process the flood of donations that poured in immediately after the fire. When Mr. Ruud returned home to Edmonton, he thought his involvement with the disaster was over. It wasn’t. In early July, he got a call from Mr. Taylor, his former boss, who was directing a mass cleanup of Fort McMurray homes for Specialized Property Evaluation Control Services. They needed a project coordinator. “Of course, I couldn’t say no,” says Mr. Ruud. “Being asked to manage a project of such immense importance and scale was a massive honour.” Living in a Fort McMurray hotel for he next few months, he was deeply struck by the destruction around him. He and focus, to cleanup the houses as quickly and as professionally as possible, made me really proud of all the people involved.” “Having a group of that size work with such purpose and


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