Volunteer Firefighter International

N.Zealand Firefighters use Virtual Reality for Training

By Kristen Edge, New Zealand Herald:

New firefighting training technology has everything including heat, hoses, smoke and the challenge of extinguishing flames except it’s all virtual reality and appears by using goggles.

A Northland business has the first unit in the country for training firefighters in various scenarios without even getting outside the classroom door.

The new training technology, developed by a university academic, helps prepare firefighters for complex and unsafe scenarios which are difficult to reproduce using traditional training methods or are no longer possible due to environmental, community and regulatory constraints.

In addition to a virtual reality headset and breathing apparatus, the FLAIM system incorporates an industry-standard hose-line system and protective clothing which produces realistic heat generation, simulating the temperature increase that occurs as the firefighter approaches or fails to adequately control the fire.

Mike Lindsay, managing director of Building and Fire Services and health and safety consultant who has brought the unit to Northland, said the technology allows firefighters to experience unique scenarios which would otherwise be too dangerous or expensive to replicate.

“The costs of building training scenarios for fire and emergency services can become expensive in both financial and environmental terms.

“At the same time long-term exposure to potentially carcinogenic emissions from fires and foam retardants for firefighters and in particular trainers, increases the risks to their health.

“This virtual reality system was designed to accommodate the increasing need for training of new firefighters and has been adopted by firefighters in 15 countries around the world,” he said.

Read the full story here.

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