B.C. to open wildfire education, training centre in Kamloops, first of its kind in North America

A new state-of-the-art wildfire education and training centre is coming to Kamloops.

Announced Thursday, B.C. Premier David Eby shared the centre will open at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and will be the first of its kind in North America.

“This centre will offer everything from basic training all the way through to postdoctoral work on fire behavior and science, so that we have the full range of expertise right here in British Columbia,” Eby shared.

The program comes after the province’s task force spent six months meeting with experts following B.C.’s worst wildfire season on record in 2023.

The province says curriculum design will begin this year, with the first cohort of students slated to start in 2025.

“Last year was the most devastating wildfire season on record, and it’s clear we need to do more to keep people safe from the impacts of climate change,” said Bruce Ralston, minister of forests.

“We have some of the most skilled, professional and dedicated teams of wildland firefighters in the world. Through this first-of-its-kind centre in North America, we are taking action to grow our local contingent of wildland firefighters, provide them with cutting-edge science and technology, and support their long-term career development in B.C.,” Ralston added.

The TRU centre is expected to enhance existing BC Wildfire Service training, the province explains, with some BCWS programs and courses to be transitioned to TRU.

“By 2028-29, more than 1,000 workshops will be offered per year, which will translate into 10,000 course registrations,” the province explained.

A wildfire training and education centre was one of the core recommendations from the premier’s Expert Task Force on Emergencies, established in fall last year.

That task force put forward 31 recommendations to the province, including but not limited to: enhancing the predictive fire technology, strengthening local response coordination, and supporting people with timely and accessible information about alerts and evacuation orders.

Wildfires and smoky skies are expected to continue to be a constant in B.C.’s future summers due to the human-caused climate crisis.

“Over the last several years, we’ve seen a pattern of longer and more intense wildfire seasons, extreme heat and severe drought. Climate change is here, and there is no evidence that it is slowing down,” Bowinn Ma, minister of emergency management and climate readiness, said.

“The steps we’re taking today will provide our future generations the tools, training and expertise they need to continue to protect people and communities in an ever-changing climate.”

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