Fire Safety Training at Daimler: A burning interest in Virtual Reality

Almost every kid dreams at some point of being a firefighter like Firefighter Sam. He is the hero of an animated children’s program that is watched by millions of kids all over the world. The idea for the figure of Firefighter Sam was originally conceived by two real firefighters from Kent in the UK. They showed that fire safety and fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

My colleague Olaf Gersbeck and I have fun at work: Both of us work in the plant fire brigade at the Mercedes-Benz production plant in Düsseldorf. We did not develop figures for an animated film, but that’s because we are aiming to make our colleagues at Daimler conscious about fire safety and not our kids. There are good reasons for us to do that: In addition to us professionals from the plant fire brigade we need lots of volunteers who are willing to take a training course and become fire safety assistants. We need to have five percent of the workers in each building or at each location that take on this important responsibility. Fire safety assistants alarm in the case of a fire the fire brigade, lead the initial firefighting within their ability and help us professionals with building evacuation.

Brandschutz-Ausbildung mit Virtual-Reality bei Daimler

Digitalization also in Fire Safety Training

Every child knows: Safety is a basic brand value of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. In recent years, our vehicles have not only become much safer but also much more connected, smarter, and digitalized. That also applies to our production processes. So why shouldn’t we move with the time and also modernize our training program for fire safety assistants? At the end of 2017, we came up with a brilliant idea — a spark of genius, you might say. We wanted to combine online learning methods with the use of the new Virtual Reality (VR) technology. We began to plan the details of our idea and to contact development companies that could help us with the technical implementation. After many months of development time and countless tests, our idea became reality. It is called FireSat 4.0 (Fire Safety Assistant Training).

Put on Virtual Reality goggles and get started!

We’re convinced that FireSat will revolutionize the way we train fire safety assistants. In the past, we had to hold three-hour instruction sessions to teach people the theoretical and practical basics. The practical training with butane gas, water, and extinguishing agents required a great deal of time and lots of materials. With FireSat we have made the training program much more efficient. The basic instruction session that used to take up more than three hours can now be compressed into approximately one hour.

Thanks to the FireSat feels Virtual Reality goggles, prospective fire safety assistants can experience a realistic fire situation. They extinguish fires with a real fire extinguisher that is linked with the virtual world. To make the experience feel even more authentic, we supply the site of the virtual fire with 4D-based heat generation and the smell of fire. It almost feels the same as a real fire — but it is safe and environmentally friendly, because the entire training session generates no emissions whatsoever. In addition to the participants and the goggles, all we need is a power source and we’re ready to go.

And the best thing about it is that it’s really fun! See for yourself:

The firefighting experience is supplemented by the theoretical part of the training, which participants can complete with an online learning tool. The big advantage here is that the theoretical part can be completed anywhere and at any time.

Innovation leadership in Fire Safety Training

Our engineers always say that innovations are part of Daimler’s DNA. But our colleagues from research and development are not the only ones who always want to be the best in their field, this also applies to us plant firefighters. With FireSat 4.0 we have not only improved the quality of training programs for fire safety assistants, to a certain extent we have reinvented it. We’re the first, and so far the only ones, who are training our fire safety assistants through a combination of e-learning and VR simulation. We’re really proud of that.

Brandschutz-Ausbildung mit Virtual-Reality bei Daimler

The pilot phase of the digital training program for fire safety assistants started at the beginning of this year at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt. We’re convinced that this type of training will be a model for others, far beyond the gates of our Daimler plants. After all, fire safety is pivotal for all of us.

Has our idea for digitally training fire safety assistants sparked your imagination? If so, get in touch with us!

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Torsten Lengersdorf invented FireSat 4.0. together with his colleague Olaf Gersbeck from the plant fire brigade in Düsseldorf.