The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has created a Virtual Reality (VR) Home Fire Experience which gives users firsthand insight into how quickly and easily a fire can ignite and spread at home.
Housed at DFES’ Heritage and Education Centre in the historic Perth Fire Station, the simulated experience brings the dangers of home fires to life in an ultra-realistic way.
The number of residential fires started by electronic devices and chargers rose dramatically in 2018/19 and the immersive VR experience brings this growing risk, and the dire outcome of not having a working smoke alarm, into focus.
The viewer is placed inside the home as two scenarios play out. The first showcases the chilling scene caused when an alarm is not working or not installed. The second portrays the vital role a working smoke alarm plays as well as the importance of having a household escape plan in place.
In the first scenario the user witnesses how quickly a fire can build and as billowing smoke fills the room, additional house fire dangers are bought into focus as on-screen graphics show the rapidly rising room temperature and increase of deadly toxins in the air.
DFES Superintendent Built Environment Allan Riley is confident that the innovative approach to community education will improve awareness of home fire safety.
“There have been over 900 residential fires in WA over the past year and despite the risk of serious tragedy many residents still don’t take basic fire safety precautions in their homes,” Superintendent Riley said.
“This immersive virtual reality experience is an effective approach to delivering safety messages, education and changing dangerous behaviours.
“Our homes are filled with highly flammable materials and furniture that can fuel fire so quickly that when a fire starts it can take just minutes for it to take over a room and spread throughout the home.
“The three best defences against fire destroying your home and putting your family in harm’s way, are having working smoke alarms, being vigilant, and having an escape plan.
“You also need to take precautions when charging your electronic devices, such as only using charging cords and ports approved for your specific device, and not leaving your device to charge on combustible materials like notepads or newspapers, or soft furnishings such as couches, beds or rugs.”
A transportable version of the VR Home Fire Experience has also been deployed to deliver lifesaving home fire safety messages across the State with more than 1,000 people from Cervantes to Kalgoorlie experiencing the eye opening simulation. The suite is available to attend community events within Western Australia. Emergency Service volunteers and DFES staff can request use of the suite via this online booking system.