Queensland fights fire using virtual reality training

Friday, 05 June, 2020

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) is using cutting-edge technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality and 360-video, as key parts of its training programs, to ensure it continues to lead the way in emergency response. “Queenslanders should know their fire and emergency services personnel are not only expertly trained but also are some of the world’s most progressive and are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to protecting the people of this state,” said Joanne Pease, Member of Parliament for Lytton. “It’s great QFES has recognised the possibilities of these emerging technologies and has worked hard to ensure they will benefit communities right across this state.”

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said extended reality had benefits that traditional training approaches were unable to match. “Apart from being cost-effective, this technology helps us to bridge distances to more readily educate and train staff and volunteers, particularly those in regional or remote areas,” Crawford said. “This means, for example, we can have one of our leading firefighting instructors at the School of Fire and Emergency Services in Brisbane delivering an incident response program through virtual reality headsets to crews in classrooms at locations anywhere in the state.”

The virtual environment enables the instructor to highlight key incident details and response techniques, and provide real-time coaching to ensure best results in the field when crews respond to actual incidents. To develop the digital training programs, QFES teamed up with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Deakin University. These partnerships enabled QFES to access advances in the technology as they developed.

QFES Commissioner Greg Leach said the program would continue its rapid progress over coming months. “We have, in the past few days, rolled out 360-degree video training to an intake of new firefighter recruits, which is an Australian first as far as we are aware,” Leach said. “This ensures the recruits have a good base of knowledge and skills they can draw on when they progress to live-fire environments and it reduces some of the risks and costs involved in the early stages of their development.”

The unit is also currently working on training packaging focused on firefighting aircraft — an important addition to modern bushfire response techniques and a growing part of operations going forward. QFES has also been developing programs around storm and severe weather event response, to use them to assist with training and community education.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/grandfailure

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