Click or call before you dig
When do you need to click or call BC 1 Call? Anytime you’re planning to break ground, whether you’re digging in the yard, building a fence or excavating a job site. This service provides you with the location of underground gas lines and other buried utilities in your area. It’s free, fast and could help you avoid safety hazards and costly repairs.
Three easy steps for safe digging
- Request location information. At least three business days before digging, click on bc1c.ca or call BC 1 Call at 1-800-474-6886. BC 1 Call will notify all member companies that have buried utilities in your dig area.
- Plan where it’s safe to dig. Within two to three business days, FortisBC will send you information on where gas lines are buried on your site. If you need help understanding this information, call FortisBC at 1-888-822-6555 and we can walk you through the details.
- Find the line. Use the information 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.
Damage prevention investigators
When one of our natural gas lines gets hit, we send a crew out immediately to repair it. We may also send one of our damage prevention investigators to determine how and why the gas line was damaged, and to educate the person or company involved so they don’t make the same mistakes again.
The investigators are primarily focused on educating contractors and those who’ve hit natural gas lines more than once, but they have useful tips for anyone who might be digging—even if it’s just to plant a garden.
Read our blog post where the investigators share 7 damaging myths about digging safety.
Digging safely in your yard
Whether you are working in your own yard or hiring landscapers or contractors, find out where the gas lines are before you dig and dig by hand to expose the line if you’re working within one metre of a gas line. It’s required by provincial laws and regulations and helps keep you safe.
Dig by hand first
- Use the information you received from FortisBC to mark the location of buried gas lines on your site. You can mark the line with paint or flags.
- When digging near this line, carefully dig by hand to expose the buried gas line. Do not use any power equipment within one metre of the gas line.
- Proceed with your project, avoiding the line.
Watch our video to learn more
Hiring a contractor to work on your property?
Use the following checklist before work begins and help keep everyone safe.
- BC 1 Call ticket – keep in mind that if the contractor hits an underground natural gas line or other utility when digging, you could be liable for repair costs. Make sure they contact BC 1 Call at least two or three days before work starts to get a free map of FortisBC’s underground utilities on your property. Click on bc1c.ca or call 1-800-474-6886.
- Liability insurance – ensure your contractor carries this (ask to see a copy) to help protect you in case they damage your property.
- WorkSafeBC clearance letter – ensure the contractor you’re hiring is registered, and in good standing, with WorkSafeBC. Ask them for their WorkSafeBC clearance letter that will tell you their current standing.
- Business licence – make sure the contractor has a licence for your city. If unsure, contact your city’s business licence office.
- Permit – check to see if your project requires a permit by contacting your city’s permit office.
- Better Business Bureau – check to see if your contractor is accredited with the Better Business Bureau. And even if they’re not, you can still find out their rating and if there’s been any complaints lodged against them. Visit bbb.org.
- Property lines – know where your property line begins and ends to ensure you don’t dig on city property.
What if you still hit a gas line or smell gas?
Stop what you’re doing, shut off any power tools or machinery and call the FortisBC Emergency Line at 1-800-663-9911 (24 hours) or 911. Anyone who calls BC 1 Call, uses hand tools to dig and still damages a gas line may have repair costs forgiven.
Excavation safety around natural gas lines
Hitting a gas line while digging can create an unsafe situation for you, your employees and the general public. It could also seriously delay your work schedule. When planning an excavation, get location information for buried utilities from BC 1 Call and hand dig first to ensure safety on the job site.
Dig by hand first
Provincial authorities such as WorkSafeBC, Technical Safety BC and the Oil and Gas Commission require hand digging to expose buried utility lines before digging with powered excavation equipment. Review the relevant acts and regulations at bclaws.ca.
Guidelines for locating lines and hand digging
Before beginning any excavation or boring, you must locate the buried gas line and hand dig to expose the line. When exposing buried gas lines, the “no mechanized dig zone” refers to the area equal to the diameter of the gas pipe, plus one metre on either side of the gas line’s indicated location extending upwards to the surface.
- have gas line information on site
- identify the location of the gas line and mark the line with paint or stakes until digging is underway
- hand dig across the boundary limits of the locate area in cuts no more than 0.3 metre deep
- use an electronic pipe locator to confirm the approximate location of the gas line
- use mechanical equipment only to remove surface cover or clear away loosened material down to the limits of the hand dig area before resuming hand digging
- use hydrovac excavation equipment within the boundary limit
- use mechanical equipment to deepen the excavation past the hand dig area within the boundary limits
If you damage a natural gas line or smell gas
Stop what you’re doing, shut off any power tools or machinery and call the FortisBC Emergency Line at 1-800-663-9911 (24 hours) or 911 so we can inspect or repair the damage.
Contractors are responsible for notifying FortisBC and WorkSafeBC of damage to natural gas lines. We may seek to recover all associated costs from any person or organization who damages an underground gas line. However, anyone who calls BC 1 Call, uses hand tools to dig and still damages a gas line may have repair costs forgiven.