The Province has been slow to move on expanding earthquake detection systems in B.C. schools.
However, B.C.’s Education Minister Mike Bernier says seismic upgrading is his main priority.
“Right now we are in those discussions with UBC and APEG on how we can move forward looking at other public schools, but I think the number one focus has to be seismically upgrading schools.”
“Starting to look at how we can implement this, but I mean, our main focus, obviously, is to look at seismically upgrading all the schools that we can in the province of British Columbia. That is our key focus.”
54 B.C. Catholic schools, and only 8 public schools, have detectors on-site linking to UBC’s earthquake early warning network.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese has contributed funding to equip their schools with the early detection systems.
The network gives students vital seconds to take shelter under a desk in the event of an earthquake.
The head of UBC’s Earthquake Engineering Research Facility, Carlos Ventura, wants to see earthquake warning systems on school grounds province-wide and for the program to be run by Emergency Management BC.
“It’s not only installing the alarms etc. but who is going to manage the program right. It has to be a government institution like EMBC that will oversee operations of the early warning system. We have to be ready to monitor this for the next 10,20,40 years.”
The early detection devices are sensitive to waves produced only by earthquakes, and send electronic signals to a computer hub at UBC.
After the data is analyzed, an alarm is sounded to all of the schools in the program over the building’s loud speaker.