CFA firefighters to feel the FLAIM of Geelong technology

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CFA firefighters to feel the FLAIM of Geelong technology

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Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville (centre) tries out the FLAIM Trainer at the Portarlington fire station, with some help from FLAIM Systems chief executive officer James Mullins (left) and CFA chief officer Jason Heffernan. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

BY JAMES TAYLOR Thursday 28 January 2021 timesnewsgroup.com.au


MORE than 30,000 volunteer firefighters in the CFA will be able to use the latest in virtual reality firefighting training using technology developed by a Geelong-based company.
The CFA will purchase five FLAIM Trainer and 10 FLAIM Extinguisher systems, which will be shared by firefighters across the state.
FLAIM Trainer and FLAIM Extinguisher are unique training systems developed specifically for firefighters by Geelong-based tech company FLAIM Systems alongside researchers at Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus.


FLAIM Systems chief technology officer James Mullins is also a CFA volunteer, and said FLAIM Trainer worked in a similar way to a flight simulator for pilot training but was designed specifically for firefighters.
“It combines virtual reality technology with real-life industry standard equipment, such as a fire nozzle, breathing apparatus, hose reel, and automated sense-perception devices such as a fire proximity heat suit to simulate both the visual and sensory feelings of being in a fire,” he said.
“Alongside the virtual reality headset, it gives the volunteers an opportunity to participate in a growing library of different scenarios – from house fires and grass fires to aeroplane fires.”


Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Bellarine MP, Lisa Neville, tried out one of the FLAIM Trainer units at Portarlington fire station last week.
“The launch of the statewide Virtual Firefighter training program today represents an exciting development in the evolution of firefighting training in Victoria,” she said.
“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.”
“We’re ensuring our emergency services have the tools and resources they need to keep the community safe, and this includes significant investment in the training capabilities of our volunteers on the frontline of emergency response.”


CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said accurate risk perception was the key to staying safe while fighting fires.
“It’s at the core of all firefighting,” he said. “For the past 20 years, CFA has been at
the forefront of computer-based learning for operational skills and improving people’s natural ability to perceive risks in the field.
“But we’re always looking for more innovative ways to help our volunteers. That’s why we’re developing virtual reality firefighting training.
“The initial concept came from our volunteers themselves – a way to give volunteers a ‘real life’ ability to assess their skills, without exposing them
to danger.
“CFA volunteers from across Victoria piloted FLAIM Trainer for six months to see if it suited our operational requirements. The feedback from members was very positive.”


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