Vic volunteer firefighters to undergo virtual training
A Virtual Firefighter training program that simulates dangerous fire scenarios such as house fires, grassfires and plane fires, while teaching real-life firefighting skills, is set to be rolled out across Victoria. Similar to flight-simulator technology but designed specifically for firefighters, the training program will enhance firefighting skills in a low-risk environment and without the logistics and cost of burning physical assets.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville was joined by CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernen and FLAIM Systems CEO James Mullins at the official launch of the statewide program. Minister Neville said the launch of the Virtual Firefighter training program represents an exciting development in the evolution of firefighting training in Victoria.
“It will give our hard-working volunteer firefighters the ability to extend their skills without exposing them to danger, and allow the CFA to expand its practical training to include more complex scenarios, such as aeroplane fires, without the costs of acting out this scenario in real life,” said Minister Neville.
The virtual firefighting technology, developed by Geelong-based company FLAIM Systems, has been blind-tested by 329 CFA firefighters across 30 brigades. Using a combination of real firefighting equipment such as breathing apparatus and hose reels, as well as automated sense-perception devices such as heat pads, trainees immersed in the virtual reality program — FLAIM Trainer and FLAIM Extinguisher — get to experience the visual and sensory feelings of being in a fire.
CFA has purchased five FLAIM Trainer and 10 FLAIM Extinguisher systems, with the training program to be rolled out over its 30,000-strong volunteer base in 2021. The Virtual Firefighter pilot and rollout of Virtual Firefighter have been funded through a $60 million investment in the state’s fire and rescue sector, as part of the 2017 Fire Services Statement.
“We’re ensuring our emergency services have the tools and resources they need to keep the community safe — this includes significant investment in the training capabilities of our volunteers on the frontline,” said Minister Neville.
The initial concept for a virtual reality firefighting training system was conceived by CFA volunteers and has been in development since 2017.
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