Climate change fueled wildfires in Australia and California has shined a light on the importance of firefighters and firefighting technology. To adapt to increased demands for firefighting innovation, Australia-based FLAIM Systems has created a virtual reality (VR) training system for firefighters.
The system allows firefighters to practice in dangerous conditions and develop critical decision-making skills without actually risking their lives. The VR technology simulates fire, smoke, water, and wind in a variety of conditions and potential scenarios.
Created by James Mullins and his team at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, the system includes a suit to replicate potential temperature conditions and a VR mask for visual cues. The system has been piloted in 16 countries and, in California, FLAIM Systems has partnered with RiVR and Pico Interactive to create region-specific modifications.
Firefighters say they were surprised by how realistic the simulation was. It allows firefighters to practice critical communication and decision making skills as if they were in the middle of a blaze. Additionally, VR technology means reduced emissions and pollution from practice drills that use smoke and chemical extinguishers.
Firefighters are a critical first line of response to all crises. This new technology is a major solution for allowing them to develop their skills to keep our communities safe, without risking their own lives in training.