Virtual reality helps encourage fire safety

April 6, 2017

Virtual reality helps encourage fire safety

The virtual reality video gives the experience of being in a real house fire. Photo: Supplied / NZ Fire Service ‘Escape My House’ campaign

The New Zealand Fire Service’s 360-degree virtual reality campaign is a world-first to encourage people to make a fire escape plan for their home.

The project, ‘Escape My House’, gives the public the opportunity to experience what it would be like in a real house fire, without the danger of the actual event.

Matt Wilson, film director for the project, said it was a challenge creating a camera rig that would survive the heat. A lot of testing was involved.

The shoot was filmed in an abandoned Palmerston North house, with the blaze starting from washing which was left too close to a heater.

“The advantage is you do something first and it’s basically forging ahead, but you’ve got nothing to guarantee it’s going to work, so it’s a bit of a risk, but that’s part of the job really.”

Mr Wilson said the 360 concept was “pretty cool” for getting the safety message across.

“In terms of getting the whole picture across to an audience, it’s brilliant. It’s the first time anyone has seen what goes on in a room like this.”

TVNZ helped launch the project, using its platforms and channels so the campaign would reach as many people as possible.

Ashleigh Vreeburg, a content strategist at TVNZ, said it was “fantastic” to be part of the project.

“We particularly like to get involved on projects that have a public service angle, where it’s about helping get as many New Zealanders as possible to experience the New Zealand Fire Service’s virtual reality campaign, so that they can be safer,” Vreeburg said.

Grey Lynn resident, Adrienne ’Apikotoa said the project encouraged her to think about her own escape plan. However she said she would be more likely to follow through if more information was posted to her.

“An incentive would maybe be to offer free smoke alarms to those who try the fire escape,” ’Apikotoa suggested.  “Especially since a lot of Pacific Island families do not see the value in spending money on such things.”

’Apikotoa said many Pacific Island homes have large, or multiple families living in them, so it was essential the entire group understood the escape plan.

The video can be watched on computers and phones and can be enhanced with the use of Google virtual reality goggles.

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