Equipping SCBA gear on firefighter

The Problem

Since 2020, the global pandemic has posed post-secondary institutions with an interesting challenge: how can professors offer engaging, experiential learning tools online while in-person classes and resources were sparse, or unavailable.

While colleges are slowly returning to in person learning, Conestoga College still saw the need for less expensive and more scalable options for said learning tools – this is when they approached XpertVR to develop a virtual training scenario that could be offered in person via VR headset as well as online for students in the pre-service firefighter program.

In the past, students in this program would practice equipping self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) gear with a mock version in class – although this was still an option for those returning to the classroom, it didn’t prepare students for faulty equipment or allow for much practice time per student. Furthermore, in order for the course outline to remain consistent, a better solution would be an independent exercise, administered outside of class time.

XpertVR’s SCBA solution

After consulting with subject matter experts at the college, and understanding this need for a PC based learning tool (online integration) and a VR learning tool (in person) to facilitate hybrid learning, XpertVR was able to get to work and build a simulation.

The simulation replicated a warehouse environment where the user, a pre-service firefighter student, would be able to assume the role of a firefighter testing, equipping and maintaining their SCBA gear before entering a fire.

The scenario allowed the user to inspect every aspect of the SCBA equipment, test it for proper operation and equip the gear on both themselves and a manikin to see how it was properly equipped.

The final VR simulation allows students to put on a headset, and feel as though they are truly preparing to enter a fire. Needing to be fast as lives could be at stake but also needing to ensure everything is tested properly as one missed piece of information could be fatal for the firefighter.

Virtual Reality firefighter manikin gear on display infront of fire engine
Controls for PC virtual reality

In addition to the fully immersive VR build, the desktop version was created for integration into the college’s LMS system for online learners. This build allows for distanced learners to utilize the same experiential learning tools as their on-campus peers, while also offering an accessible option for students that require an alternative to VR.

Results & Feedback

Conestoga College and their industry experts where blown away by the amount of interactivity and the precision of our virtual SCBA gear as it relates to the real world version. Hundreds of students are now using this simulation every year to prepare for equipping SCBA gear in the real world. Ensuring firefighters are safer on the job so they can help those in need.

In Conclusion

This is just the beginning of VR in the eLearning space. While in training with mock SCBA gear in class had its merits, a fully immersive scenario that replicated a real world fire scenario with realistic equipment and defects for the user to engage with creates a more engaging and well-rounded experience for students. 

Our hope is that the independent use of this scenario ensures our future firefighters are using their equipment properly.

If you are looking for virtual solutions, reach out to our team. We would be happy to offer some insights and see how we can support you and your goals.