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B.C. expanding TV, radio alerts to cover flood and fire evacuations

System ready for spring flooding, wildfires starting in June
Emergency Management B.C. is adding ‘broadcast intrusive’ alerts on radio and TV to its phone alert system for evacuation warnings. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

The B.C. government is expanding its emergency cell phone alert system to provide evacuation alerts for flooding and wildfires to break into radio and television broadcasts.

The broadcast and cell phone flood alert system is ready to go as the province experiences a colder than normal spring, and the system will be set up for wildfire alerts by early June, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Tuesday.

A test of the phone and wireless system is scheduled for Wednesday, May 4 at 1:55 p.m. that will include radio and TV stations as well as cell networks.

“While it’s important to remember that public emergency alerting is intended to complement, but not replace, emergency alerting already performed by Emergency Management B.C. and local governments, broadcast intrusive alerts have unique advantages with their reach and impact,” Farnworth said.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre is tracking snowpack and rainfall, as the long and cool spring sets up the possibility of rapid warming and snow melt. Rivers are at or below average levels now, with major melting just beginning, Brent Martin, deputy director B.C. Wildfire Service, said May 3.

The B.C. Wildfire Service has a cell phone app available and has begun daily reporting on its website As of May 3 there are 11 active wildfires in B.C., 10 of them human-caused, and none has gained significant size due to the cool and wet conditions so far this spring.

As more than 4,000 B.C. properties were under wildfire evacuation orders last summer, Emergency Management B.C. announced in July 2021 that it was implementing the Canada-wide Alert Ready system that allows government to issue public safety alerts through television and radio broadcasters as well as compatible wireless devices. The system was already in use for tsunami alerts and Amber Alert messages for missing children.

RELATED: B.C. says expanding emergency wildfire alerts a priority

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