Edward Milne Secondary student Ike Batten participates in a pop up university session on the risk of interface fires conducted by Royal Roads University at the old Happy Valley fire hall. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)

Edward Milne Secondary student Ike Batten participates in a pop up university session on the risk of interface fires conducted by Royal Roads University at the old Happy Valley fire hall. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)

West Shore students get message on interface fires

Royal Roads University teams up with high school students and Langford Fire

Rick Stiebel

News Staff

Royal Roads University teamed up with local high school students and Langford Fire Rescue to tackle the serious threat posed by interface fires.

RRU staged a pop up university at the old Happy Valley fire hall on Nov. 15 with about 20 students from Belmont, Royal Bay and Edward Milne secondary schools to work with Langford Fire Rescue Chief Chris Aubrey on how to reduce the risk of interface fires.

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“Royal Roads presented us with an outstanding opportunity to talk to a select group of students to identify and understand how to mitigate the risk of interface fires caused by not properly extinguishing campfires,” Aubrey said during a break from discussions with students. “Wild land interface fires are the number one threat to our communities. This allows good feedback directly from youth. They’re providing valuable information on how we can work together to mitigate the risk.”

Having the connection with RRU and local high schools is a great way to solve a local problem by working together that benefits the entire community, Aubrey added.

The pop-up university is a new approach to engaging students in solving a challenge that relates to their community, said Steve Grundy, vice-president and academic provost for RRU.

“We’re trying something new by refurbishing the old fire hall and turning it into a pop-up university. Interface fires are an important issue as communities expand into forested areas. It’s challenged-based learning, students solving a challenge relative to their community. We may see more of this. It’s important for the university and the community.”

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Lee Sentes, an associate faculty member at RRU, said the pop-up university provides Langford Fire Rescue with a way to engage directly with youth.

“Chief Aubrey made a really good point, that a lot of the work they do is reactive,” said Senres, one of the event’s facilitators. “This is a proactive approach, and this process really helps that emerge. “We’re trying to give Grade 12 students a hands-on experience that higher education is much more than boring lectures.”

Ike Batten, a Grade 12 student at Edward Milne Secondary School, said he volunteered to participate, in part, to learn more about climate change.

“The focus here is on getting the message out about the risk caused by fires, especially in remote areas where kids might gather. It’s been well worth the time.”