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CRC Fire Training Program Brings Virtual Reality to Firefighter Training

January 24, 2023

A white virtual reality headset on a black background

Firefighters must possess the necessary skills to function in a fast-paced, changing environment and Cosumnes River College's Accredited Regional Fire Training Program (ARTP) plans to prepare them using virtual reality (VR). The program recently received 20 new VR devices that will provide fire academy students the opportunity to virtually work through challenging scenarios side-by-side with their team and instructor.

The program will be demonstrating the new VR equipment on Monday, January 30, 2:00 to 3:00 pm in the Winn Center Room 150 at Cosumnes River College.

“The VR training will not change the firefighters job per se, but what I believe it will do is allow the students the opportunity to see what they will be up against before they do it. Going into a real fire while in Virtual Reality will let them see all of the fire dynamics without all of the stress. This will lead to greater understanding of how fire burns and how it will be properly extinguished,” said Rick Haas, Jr., Fire Internship Coordinator, Cosumnes Fire Department.

Firefighters are frequently the first emergency personnel at the scene of a traffic accident or medical emergency. They may be called upon to put out a fire, treat injuries, or perform other vital functions. For students in the CRC Fire Technology program, being able to learn through virtual reality will help raise the bar in training, while also providing the added benefit of helping save lives and conserve valuable resources.

“Firefighter training is unique and quite often comes with a calculated risk. VR technology can help reduce some of that risk during training by exposing the firefighter to the experience they will be dealing with firsthand in a completely virtual atmosphere, without the risk,” said Haas.

Completing community college courses and a degree in fire science may significantly improve Firefighter applicants' chances for an appointment. The National Fire Academy (NFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have made it clear that higher education is an essential ingredient in the career advancement of fire personnel and that higher education is critical to managing the complexities of the fire service. The fundamental issue is to raise the organizational capacity of fire departments. 

The US Fire Administration (USFA), an entity of the US Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), published an article advocating for the use of virtual reality (VR) technology to help save the lives of firefighters in training. According to the USFA, from 2008 to 2019, 110 firefighters lost their lives due to training injuries.

Related Links

FEMA: VR Training Saves Lives and Resources

Fire Technology
This CRC program is designed to provide the student with updated skills and knowledge necessary to complete and successfully apply for fire service positions.

Fire Technology Department
Information on CRC's Fire Technology program.

Firefighter Internships
The Firefighter Internship Program is a collaborative effort between our Work Experience and Internship Program and the Cosumnes Community Services District Fire Department.