December 20, 2019By Lance Baily

California Firefighter Academy Students Train with Virtual Reality

Sacramento’s Local CBS News station recently reported that for the first time ever, fire academy recruits in Elk Grove and Galt are using virtual reality technology to train thanks to some of the concept training systems available from the Consumnes Fire Department. Using 360 captured video of previous firefighting engagements, learners are able to experience the dangerous environments of various emergency situations from the safety of a classroom. Let’s take a closer look at the future of FireFighter training!

CBS Sacramento 13: Cosumnes Firefighters Training With Virtual Reality

It may seem like a video game, but the lessons are very real. They’re designed to help firefighters spot dangerous situations before they turn deadly. Entering a burning building filled with thick smoke and 1,200-degree temperatures is one of the most dangerous things firefighters can do. Now this virtual reality technology is allowing Cosumnes Fire District crews to come face to face with flames without ever leaving the classroom.


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“This isn’t a made-up world, these are real-life situations,” Battalion Chief Rick Clarke said. Dr. Kevin Mackey, the Fire Department Medical Director, tried out the 3-D headset for the first time on Thursday. “You put on a goggle and you feel like you just stepped into the room,” Mackey said. “You can look up and actually see on the ceiling you can see the fire moving across the ceiling.”

From ventilating a roof with a chainsaw to seeing a wildland fire spread, firefighters can now train in dangerous conditions without putting their lives at risk. “Now we’re able with this technology to start, stop, rewind, pause, and even in slow motion, put firefighters through the entire event over and over again,” Clarke said. VR will never completely replace live fire training, but it expands the ability to simulate scenarios like disaster response, or even a mass shooting. “Those are going to be almost impossible for us to create, but you could mimic that in a virtual world and then put people in those stressful situations,” Clarke said.

They say it provides a cost-effective way to train hundreds of first responders. “These aren’t cheap, but they’re certainly less expensive than derailing a train every Saturday so you can train the entire department,” Mackey said. The equipment is currently on loan to the department and they plan on comparing this academy class to previous ones that did not have VR training to see how effective the new technology is. Read the full story here!


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About the Consumnes Fire Department 911 Go 360 Video Concept

The Cosumnes Fire Department Next Generation SMART Concept (aka: 911 Go) is focused on community risk reduction by leveraging current and near-term technological solutions to deliver public education, mixed-reality training for firefighters, and augmented cyber-physical enabled emergency response enhanced mitigation. Using gaming technology, the proposed platform will use augmented reality redesigned to save lives. The work here is in “concept development” and does not constitute current use case. It does, however, provide a vision into what one day may be possible. The Cosumnes Fire Department continues to collaborate with world leaders exploring Next Generation solutions, with the goal of providing community risk reduction with SMART systems – exceeding expectations at all time.

In the future, Next Generation First Responder solutions will provide SMART Cyber-Physical systems where lives will be saved in 360 and 3D through public education, first responder training, and emergency response enhancement. Children will use their gaming platforms to learn real world fire and life safety skills, from the comfort of their living rooms. Responders will have building information modeling (BIM) and 3D digital terrain maps of all public areas, and many commercial and private assets whose holders wish to make them available to responders. Multi-sensor fusion will be incorporated to provide artificial intelligence regarding current hazard locations (flood, smoke, fire, active shooter).

Biotelemetry from individuals’ health monitors, computer vision and real-time remote sensed data from helmet-mounted structured light and infrared sensors will assist in development of the solution platform. The project will involve collaborative development of 3D remote sensed point clouds, Building Information Modeling (BIM), physics-based computational fluid dynamic modeling, gaming platform applications, haptic touch, digital scent, computer vision, coupled with relevant and actionable multi-sensor fusion for a cyber-physical HUD enabled “Iron First Responder.” Incident commanders will receive this intelligence through VR and AR enabled heads up devices and citizens will escape harm through the 911 Go application on their personal phones.

SMART Enabled Next Gen First Responder Solution: AR in Action

Moving beyond VR to AR (Augmented Reality), in the video below Captain Kirk McKinzie of the Cosumnes Fire Department explores the use of AR-enabled solutions for public education, first responder training and emergency response enhancement as a way to reduce risk and enhance safety in our communities. Capt McKinzie brings 25 years of hands-on and practical emergency responder and rescue experience handling over 10,000 emergencies to this emerging space.

AR in Action is an Augmented Reality Summit convening top minds of the augmented reality ecosystem. AR in Action explores the challenges and opportunities that face inventors, innovators, integrators, investors, and other executives working to bring the benefits of AR to the world.

Learn more by visiting the Cosumnes Fire Department 911 Go page today!


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