Firefighters train at the Justice Institute of BC campus in Maple Ridge. (Special to The News)

Firefighters train at the Justice Institute of BC campus in Maple Ridge. (Special to The News)

Giving Tuesday: JIBC raising money for virtual reality technolgy to train students

Maple Ridge campus provides hands-on firefighting practice and training

The Justice Institute of B.C. is raising money for immersive technology in order to provide students with opportunities to learn their craft in a safe environment.

For Giving Tuesday, Nov. 30, the institute is trying to raise $25,000 in a campaign called “deliVR” to expand programming using virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, mixed reality and 360 video, that, according to Bob Walker, director of the JIBC Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Innovation, have the power to teach students critical skills and enhance their learning experiences.

“Immersive learning technologies help pack more of an emotional punch than more passive learning typically associated with a traditional classroom lecture,” remarked Walker. “It’s been demonstrated to be very effective in helping students develop the specialized and critical thinking skills they need, particularly for public safety professionals.”

There are six JIBC campuses, including one in Maple Ridge that provides hands-on firefighting practice and training delivered by the Fire and Safety Division using unique simulation training props like a three-storey concrete burn building, a ship’s steel superstructure, and an 11-car train derailment.

Immersive simulation-based learning can increase access to certain training, noted Charlene Jordan-Jones, director of the Fire and Safety Division.

“Incorporating immersive technologies into our courses helps with flattening the inaccessibility curve by making our courses and training available to communities throughout B.C.,” she said.

And using immersive learning technologies in emergency responder training also protects student health and the environment – allowing students to gain experience in a healthier way, said JIBC Fire and Safety Division instructor Nathan Walker, who is also acting assistant fire chief for the District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.

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Traditionally students in his division would practise how to discover the cause of a fire by examining purpose-built, intentionally burned structures filled with furniture, fabrics, and fixtures that exposes both students and instructors to harmful chemicals.

“It also reduces our impact on the environment by not burning and disposing of unnecessary materials,” he noted.

Virtual reality training simulations in the JIBC’s Primary Care Paramedic program, also provide audio and visual elements that are more difficult to experience using traditional simulations – like sensory-based clues for students to make clinical decisions, as opposed to descriptions by the instructor, added Eric McConaghy, regional training coordinator for the paramedic program.

READ MORE: JIBC hires first female director of fire and safety division

Money raised will go towards virtual reality headsets, specialized laptops, and camera equipment.

Donations will be matched up to a total of $10,000.

Donations can be mailed to the JIBC Foundation, 715 McBride Boulevard, New Westminster, BC, V3L 5T4. Or they can be made online at

For more information about the campaign go to

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