Why VR training
for firefighters
is beneficial for
fire departments

Author: Adam Kimmel

Firefighters need real-world experience and, as a result, departments are constantly looking for safer, more effective training methods. One important tool that has emerged is firefighter virtual reality (VR) training.

Firefighter VR training can help to transform training methods while also helping to improve safety. The expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the ongoing rollout of 5G should help to create the landscape VR needs for mass adoption of VR training for firefighters.

Components of firefighter VR training programs

To understand why VR training for firefighters could be so beneficial, it’s important to first understand the training that candidates must undergo to become a firefighter. The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is the standard for determining whether an applicant can handle the physical demands of firefighting.

Created through a joint effort by the International Association of Fire Fighters and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the CPAT consists of eight events that a candidate must complete in 10 minutes, 20 seconds:

  • Stair climb
  • Hose drag
  • Equipment carry
  • Ladder raise and extension
  • Forcible entry
  • Maze search
  • Victim drag
  • Ceiling breach and pull

Of course, there's more to the job than just physical strength and conditioning. Firefighters also have to make quick decisions, frequently under extreme stress, and often with lives on the line. Firefighters need to be prepared to move quickly and safely when vehicle extrication can help save lives.

Preparing for those circumstances is where VR training for firefighters can play a critical role.

Advantages of VR training for firefighters versus live training

During an emergency response, heat, water pressure, fatigue, stress and urgency can attack the firefighter simultaneously. Live training sessions, however, are dangerous and expensive, which can limit the amount of training a firefighter receives. VR firefighting can help bridge the gap, giving firefighters an experience that simulates reality.

In addition to being more cost effective than traditional training, some of the benefits that VR training for firefighters can provide include:

  1. Creating a safe environment with 360-degree views
  2. Offering on-demand training anytime at any location
  3. Providing accurate 3D representations of physical structures in an environment
  4. Preserving gear and equipment for real emergencies

VR firefighting training: Why VR training is beneficial

An effective VR training for firefighters—as well as AR training—should be able to create a realistic, lifelike environment for the user, better aligning the module with real-world events. The dynamic nature of the technology should respond to a firefighter's behaviors as they would see in the real world.

While nothing compares to an actual fire, firefighter VR and AR training programs could improve the quality of training. Firefighters, for example, could view conditions created in the VR firefighting-simulated mode independently, reducing the need to have another teammate present for the training. This simulation could encourage the user to act without the benefit of more experienced firefighters leading the way. 

What network capabilities does VR training for firefighters require?

Like any technology that interacts with human reaction time, offering firefighter VR training programs on a high-powered network is essential. 5G networks, which can offer low latency and high bandwidth, could help support VR/AR-aided training.

Verizon has a long history of serving public safety agencies, combined with a strong portfolio with innovative solutions and support. The Verizon Frontline portfolio offers an advanced network and technology for first responders. It’s built for 5G, which can help first responders and others on the frontline to train effectively in new ways.

Learn more about Verizon 5G technologies for first responders at Verizon 5G Innovations.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.