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Houston Fire Department Considering Virtual Reality Training

Houston firefighters might be better prepared to go into burning buildings, or dealing with multiple other emergencies thanks to training using “virtual reality”

Headgear used for virtual reality training.

Firefighters enter an office on the 24th floor. Smoke is billowing on the ceiling. Quickly, they close the office door to contain the fire, and help employees escape telling them to stay low to avoid the smoke.

It seems real but it’s all created by a computer and seen by a trainee wearing goggles.

Houston firefighters might be better prepared to go into burning buildings, or dealing with multiple other emergencies thanks to training using “virtual reality.”

“We can start to develop products and platform that continuously judge the caliber of firefighter that we have in the Houston Fire Department. That we can augment our training based on the data that we get back. And that can, as somebody gets near the end of their career and has this wealth of knowledge, that we can capture that and pass it on,” said Patrick Hagan, a tech specialist with the Houston Fire Department.

The fire department is working with Houston-based HTX labs which develops training for a variety of safety workers. CEO Scott Schneider said the goal is to develop muscle memory, and uses the Vegas shootings as an example.

“They should looking for the guy who’s bringing, six, ten suitcases in over a couple days. Who hasn’t had room service, but they don’t know to look for it. We need to go in and provide training on things like that. And we can do that in virtual reality,” Schneider said.

The Houston Fire Department hopes to start using V-R training in 2018.

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