Volunteers with a Rapid Damage Assessment field team inspected seven city buildings for damages on Tuesday, June 7 following a mock 9.0 magnitude earthquake in the Alberni Valley.
The assessment operation is part of Exercise Coastal Response (ECR), British Columbia’s first-ever provincially led, full-scale earthquake response exercise happening in the Valley this week.
Thirty local volunteers received specified training prior to the exercise, Maggie Hodge Kwan, assistant to the ACRD emergency program coordinator, told the News in an earlier media briefing.
Rapid damage assessments are utilized after a disaster occurs. Team members deploy to emergency response buildings or residential homes to inspect the conditions and deem whether they are safe or not to occupy and if anyone is hurt inside.
Eight members of the RDA team spread out to assess the Port Alberni Fire Department, the Cherry Creek Fire Department, Beaver Creek Fire Department, the RCMP office, City Hall, the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District’s Emergency Operations Centre and the upper ACRD office to determine if the facilities were free of damages and safe to occupy.
Six of the seven buildings were given green placards determining the buildings were safe and free of damages. Cherry Creek Fire Department received a yellow placard meaning the building was safe to enter but with limitations. A wall in the facility with equipment hanging from it was deemed a safety hazard as objects could be prone to fall from the wall in a disaster situation.
A red placard would mean the building is unsafe to occupy and entry would be restricted.
The Orange Bridge on River Road was completely inaccessible to those involved in ECR as it was considered damaged during the mock earthquake. Therefore the RDA team couldn’t reach the three Sproat Lake Fire Department sites to assess them as originally planned.
Ted Maczulat and Rita Grant were sent out to assess Beaver Creek Fire Department during the exercise. Upon arrival the pair walked around the exterior of the building checking for damages and potential safety hazards, meticulously taking notes on a rapid damage assessment check list.
Maczulat, who is the assistant chief with the Beaver Creek Fire Department, said the building received a seismic upgrade about a year and a half ago and has a generator that is able to power the entire building for 72 hours.
“There’s no evidence on the ground…that would suggest that there was any serious movement here,” Maczulat said. “The foundations are good.”
Deciding that the building was safe, Maczulat and Grant headed inside the building to assess the interior.
Included on the interior checklist were ceilings, light fixtures, interior walls, elevators, stairs, electric and gas. The pair walked throughout the building checking items off the list as they assessed each component.
Once the entire building was assessed for damages it was determined free of damages and safe to occupy. A green placard was taped to the front door of the building so others would know it was safe. The troupe began the assessment process at 8:30 a.m. finishing the inspection of all seven buildings by 10:30 a.m.