Person with VR headset holds a extinguisher tool while another person looks at the screen

Captain James Pearce from the Raleigh Fire Department takes a turn at using the new virtual reality fire safety training tool.

Raleigh Fire Uses Virtual Reality for Effective Safety Training

New hands-on tool trains users how to safely put out a fire

Lt. Hubbard with VR headset on facing camera and holding FLAIM extinguisher prop

Lt. Lemuel Hubbard tests out the new FLAIM training equipment.

One minute I’m confidently using a fire extinguisher to put out a cooking fire and the next I’m screaming, jumping backwards. The water I was spraying on the stove rapidly heated and vaporized, lifting the flaming oil into the air and exploding into a ball of grease. “You picked the wrong fire extinguisher,” I hear Lt. Lemuel Hubbard of the Raleigh Fire Department tell me. “Never use water on a grease fire.”

Lucky for me, this activity was part of a virtual reality safety training the Raleigh Fire Department can now offer to businesses, schools, and community groups, thanks to the new Flaim extinguisher. The kit includes a VR headset, a real-sized fire extinguisher and software that offers realistic virtual environments and scenarios. 

The environments range from residential and healthcare to construction and transportation and what the user sees can be cast onto a monitor for others to watch. One can learn about the different types of fire extinguishers and how to use them. The system also captures the learning session for future watching.

“Flaim offers immersive VR learning for training in hazardous and emergency situations,” explains Hubbard. “Flaim’s algorithms mimic real fire behavior including movement, smoke, flashover and explosions.”

Virtual reality offers several key benefits, including:

  • Reduced training costs;
  • Improved learner engagement;
  • Ability to easily train for different fire types and extinguishers;
  • Ability to train at any time, regardless of the weather;
  • Ability to restart and retrain on the spot; and,
  • Absence of health and environmental concerns.

Hartford Grant

FLAIM extinguisher prop

FLAIM fire extinguisher prop

The Raleigh Fire Department was able to purchase the system thanks to a $10,000 grant from The Hartford investment and insurance company. The grant supports fire safety education efforts and programming. 

“When used correctly, fire extinguishers are effective 95 percent of the time,” says Assistant Fire Chief Ray Enoch. “With Flaim, anyone can learn via an engaging, hands-on experience that is safe, efficient and more cost-effective.”

The Raleigh Fire Department recently trained local warehouse employees how to use a fire extinguisher. Thanks to Flaim, the employees were able to train in a warehouse (virtual reality) environment with pellets and forklifts. “The system can improve organizational safety and compliance,” Enoch explains.

If your organization is interested in fire safety training, contact the Raleigh Fire Department by emailing or calling  919-996-6392. The training is free of charge.

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