UBC Okanagan is a fire-smart campus.
The campus follows the recommendations set out in UBC’s Wildland Fire Management Plan and the UBC Okanagan Design Guidelines for improving fire safety on campus, such as planting native species, maintaining sprinkler systems and avoiding thick trees and flammable mulch near buildings.
The Wildfire Management Plan delineates three priority zones for managing flammable vegetation:
- Priority Zone 1 (within 10m of a building): Remove ground fuel and convert vegetation to fire-resistant species to produce an environment that does not support combustion
- Priority Zone 2 (between 10-30m of a building): Reduce flammable vegetation through thinning and pruning and produce an environment that will only support low-intensity surface fires
- Priority Zone 3 (over 30m from a building): Eliminate the potential for a high-intensity crown fire through thinning and pruning
Facilities Management has removed ground fuel and conducted thinning and pruning in the naturalised areas between the Monashee, Valhalla, Nicola, and Kalamalka residences to bring the campus in accordance with the priority zones established in the guidelines. Facilities Management has continued this fuel reduction in the wildland areas of campus, including the area south of the Gym, the gully between the GeoExchange Building and University Way, an area north of the ball hockey court, and the Pine Loop Trail. Similar work has begun on the east side of the Pine Loop Trail, which is the only area on campus where fire treatment has yet to be completed.
UBC’s Disaster Response Plan (Section 8) outlines how UBC Okanagan would receive support from the regional district if evacuated due to fire. This includes transportation, housing & shelter, provision of food, family reunification, UBC Okanagan’s Emergency Management BC task number, and activation flowcharts.
UBC Okanagan’s Emergency Communications Protocol (EPC) is co-owned by University Relations and Campus Operations and Risk Management. The EPC is intended to outline guidelines for quickly communicating with UBC’s Okanagan campus community, community partners, and external stakeholders during an emergency.
For situations of imminent threat or need for campus evacuation, UBC Alert would be deployed to send text messaging to faculty, staff, and students that have subscribed to the service. This will also trigger messaging on digital signage and in some classrooms. All text messages link to this website, where more information can be provided by University Relations even in remote situations.
University Relations also has a standardized bulletin that is modified as necessary and used to help individuals take care of themselves during periods of poor air quality resulting from forest fires.
UBC Okanagan has experienced over 45 outdoor fires since 2005. Causes include mulch fires, bonfires, and mischief. In response to this, a fire suppression Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) was purchased in 2016 and all three Campus Security Managers received S100 wildfire training. Two of the managers are also volunteer fire fighters.
Adaptable plans are in place to accommodate emergency services, fire fighting vehicles and equipment, as well as evacuees as needed. Other agencies to assist with group lodging in Kelowna include four middle schools, one recreation centre, and two arenas.
Requests for UBC Okanagan support, including equipment staging and group and guest accommodations, are centralized through the Regional Emergency Operations Centre (located at Kelowna Fire Department’s Fire Hall #1). The Fire Chief is the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Regional District of the Central Okanagan and the direct liaison with the Director, Campus Operations and Risk Management regarding emergency training and support.