Oak Bay fire hall monitor helps track earth’s movement

Oak Bay is among an integral network hosting seismometers to predict specific waves when the earth moves

Oak Bay fire chief Dave Cockle

Oak Bay has a place in the integral network of seismometers to predict specific waves when the earth moves.

British Columbia Smart Infrastructure Monitoring System (BC SIMS) has about 100 stations strategically located throughout the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island in key infrastructures and locations.

In Victoria those include the Saanich #2 fire hall and  Catholic schools in the region as well as Oak Bay fire hall.

“It’s an opportunity for BC SIMS to get another monitoring device,” said Fire Chief Dave Cockle. “They’re trying to build a network of those to help offset and monitor so we can get that early warning system in.”

It’s part of the earthquake early warning through the BC SIMS network. BC SIMS is a partnership between the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, UBC Civil Engineering and Natural Resources Canada.

The stations are equipped with a seismometer that indicates the initial P wave motion of an earthquake allowing for up to 20 seconds of earthquake warning.

Oak Bay’s seismometer was installed Nov. 30.

“The motion sensors help us understand how the earth below our feet is moving all the time,” said Cockle, who also serves as president of the BC Earthquake Alliance.

“It’ll give us the direction it’s coming from, the intensity based on what the seismometers read.”

The instrumentation operates on standard power and uses less electricity than a light bulb to operate.

The system is connected through the district computer network to the BC SIMS database.

The seismometer remains the property of the BC SIMS who will maintain the instrument.

Oak Bay provides the space, power and tech access to enable the seismometer to function.

“Motion sensors help us understand how the earth below our feet is shifting by measuring and transmitting data about local earthquake activity to ministry inspectors, emergency responders and the public,” said Cockle, also Oak Bay’s emergency program co-ordinator.

“This seismometer benefits the district residents and staff through the BC SIMS early warning system. It also provides key information after an event on the strength and time of the earthquake, providing decision makers with knowledge to assess our critical infrastructure in the district.”

An online map shows ongoing visuals for seismic events, making the network a particularly helpful tool for Emergency Management BC and local government responders needing to identify an earthquake’s location, strength and damage.

Find information for stations on the BC SIMS network, including stations at Oak Bay fire hall and Gonzales Observatory, at www.bcsims.ca.