SURREY, B.C.—October 5, 2023: With summer construction projects wrapping up in preparation for colder weather, FortisBC is reminding British Columbians to keep themselves and others safe by reaching out to BC 1 Call before any digging or excavation work to avoid damaging underground utility lines.
“Damaging or severing a gas line can be dangerous to both workers and the community,” said Tanya Kowalenko, program manager, public safety at FortisBC. “Safety is our top priority. We ask that businesses and homeowners follow some quick safety steps before they dig, starting with a call to BC 1 Call at 1-800-474-6886 for information about what’s buried in your yard. You’ll receive a map in three days’ time, free of charge. From there, you are required to follow the digging guidelines if your project is near identified underground lines.”
Whether you are a homeowner installing a backyard fence or a construction crew digging a new foundation, it’s important to understand where underground utilities are located before digging. Following required safe digging practices helps avoid unplanned service interruptions and potential safety hazards.
FortisBC has seen an increase of around five to 10 per cent in incidents causing damage to gas lines from last month. The vast majority of these incidents could have been avoided by following precautions. Failing to do so can result in damage to gas infrastructure that can pose a safety risk and potential disruptions in service for homes and businesses that rely on the gas system.
Follow these steps to practice safe digging:
- Request location information—at least three business days before digging. There’s no charge for this service and BC 1 Call will notify all member companies that have utilities buried at your site. Call BC 1 Call at 1-800-474-6886, or visit their website.
- Plan where it’s safe to dig—after contacting BC 1 Call, FortisBC will send you a map and information on where gas lines are buried on the site.
- Find the line—use the map provided to mark the location of gas lines on your site. Dig by hand first to expose the gas line if you are working in this area. Don’t use any power equipment within one metre of the gas line.
In 2022, FortisBC noted 896 instances of British Columbians damaging underground utility lines. Approximately 70 per cent of damages were from those who did not contact BC 1 Call before digging. Of the other 30 per cent, most did not appropriately use the information provided or did not dig by hand first.
“Unfortunately, most of the damage done to gas lines comes from external parties conducting work and failing to take the necessary precautions,” added Kowalenko. “Rather than putting safety at risk and inconveniencing others in the community because of a disruption in service, we want to encourage British Columbians to call before they dig.”
FortisBC’s gas system delivers vital energy to homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and other facilities every day. It’s important to keep the system operating at its peak capacity.
For more information on safe digging practices, visit fortisbc.com/digsafe.
About FortisBC and Fortis Inc.
FortisBC Inc. and FortisBC Energy Inc., both regulated utilities, do business as FortisBC, and are focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity, Renewable Natural Gas and propane. FortisBC employs approximately 2,652 British Columbians and serves more than 1.25 million customers in 135 British Columbian communities and 58 First Nations communities across 150 Traditional Territories. FortisBC owns and operates two liquefied natural gas storage facilities and four regulated hydroelectric generating plants, approximately 7,316 kilometres of transmission and distribution power lines, and approximately 51,200 kilometres of gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC is indirectly, wholly owned by Fortis Inc., a leader in the North American regulated electric and gas utility industry. FortisBC Inc. and FortisBC Energy Inc. use the FortisBC name and logo under license from Fortis Inc. For further information on FortisBC, visit www.fortisbc.com. For further information on Fortis Inc., visit www.fortisinc.com.