This article was originally published in The Chippewa Herald on November 2, 2021. Written by: Parker Reed
Mark Schwartz, CVTC fire and EMS coordinator demos the FLAIM virtual reality firefighting system
A local college has another modern tool for its students to utilize before entering their dangerous job field.
Chippewa Valley Technical College has received a virtual reality system for firefighter training. The FLAIM system involves firefighting students wearing VR goggles and being immersed in a virtual emergency situation where they encounter various training scenarios.
CVTC VR Fire and EMS Training
“This system allows you to have hands-on training while also having an instructor right next to you,” said Mark Schwartz CVTC fire and EMS coordinator. “This system itself gives you instant feedback and allows you to tackle a variety of situations. It can have you fighting fires on a Boeing 737, in a national park, on a submarine, residential fires, car fires and new scenarios are constantly being added. It’s really versatile.”
CVTC is the first college in Wisconsin to utilize the FLAIM system, which was paid for in part through the Higher Education Emergency Relief grant. CVTC had been testing out virtual reality simulation but didn’t purchase the technology until recently.
The system itself monitors how much water, foam, and other firefighting resources the user utilizes during the training exercise to train how to best use them during the firefight. The technology also features a pressure-sensitive hose/nozzle, a vest that heats up and cools down based on proximity to the flames and monitors the amount of air the user might have access to while exposed to the simulated conditions.
“911 is your first defense for anything, so whether it is fire, EMS, police, they’re all incredibly important,” Schwartz said. “It’s beneficial for even our small communities to have their firefighters trained well and to continue their training even after they enter the field.”