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Aus volunteer firefighters to undergo virtual reality training

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Canberra, Jan 25 (IANS) Australian volunteer firefighters will undergo a state-of-the-art virtual reality training to help them grow accustomed to a range of different emergency scenarios, officials announced on Monday.

Victoria state’s Country Fire Authority (CFA) will roll out the training to 30,000 of its volunteers, who played a crucial role in the devastating 2019-20 “Black Summer” bushfire season disaster response, reports Xinhua news agency.

The scale and devastation of Australia’s 2019-20 bushfires garnered global attention, causing the loss of five lives and more than 300 homes in Victoria.

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The fires also burned more than 1.5 million hectares of critical wildlife habitat.

“The launch of the state-wide Virtual Firefighter training program today represents an exciting development in the evolution of firefighting training in Victoria,” said Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville.

“We’re ensuring our emergency services have the tools and resources they need to keep the community safe.”

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Similar to flight-simulator technology but designed specifically for firefighters, the Virtual Firefighter training program simulates dangerous fire scenarios such as house fires, grassfires and plane fires, while teaching real-life firefighting skills.

The technology mixes real-life firefighting equipment such as breathing apparatus and hose reels, with sense-perception devices such as heat pads and virtual reality headsets.

“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,” Neville said.

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The “Black Summer” fire season destroyed thousands of homes and claimed 33 lives, including nine firefighters.

Nearly 3 billion animals were also killed or displaced, and the fires harmed many threatened species and ecological communities.

–IANS

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