Fire Service Use VR to Let People Experience A Burning House

Firefighters in New Zealand are using a new way to teach the public about the dangers of a burning building, and educate them on the importance of having an evacuation plan.

The Fire Service has created a 360-degree virtual reality (VR) experience called Escape My House, which puts people inside a burning house and tasks them with attempting to escape. Floating text presents options for how they can escape, and points out where potential avenues may be unusable – such as a window that cannot be opened due to being painted shut.

The New Zealand Fire Service filmed the experience by burning down a derelict building called the Palmerston North house and filming what happened inside as the temperature soars to over 900 degrees Celsius. Within the Escape My House experience, the fire is started by some washing which is left too close to a heater, which quickly spreads until the house is completely engulfed only a few minutes later.

Firefighters are hoping that it will help raise awareness of the need to create and rehearse an evacuation plan in case of fire. Statistics have shown that though 61% of people say they have an evacuation plan, only 29% have actually rehearsed the plan.

Fire Service training officer Chris Kennedy, who managed to project, says it is also about showing just how fast fire can spread: “In those first few moments it’s flight or fight, so a key point is to make sure any escape plan is second nature,” he said.

Escape My House can be watched on phones, computers or using a Google Cardboard headset.

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