The reality of a rampant fire

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    Invercargill Fire Station senior firefighter Murray Milne-Maresca demonstrates the Escape My House virtual reality tool which enables the public to experience a real house fire. Photo: Petrina Wright

    LEARNING why it is so important to establish an escape plan for your family in the event of a fire is now clearer than ever following the launch of the New Zealand Fire Service’s Escape My House tool last month.

    Escape My House is a 360-degree, virtual reality (VR) tool which enables the public to experience a real house fire in real time.

    Using a VR headset or Google cardboard, the user can see and hear what a house fire is like, how fast it spreads and how quickly the temperature rises using real video footage from an actual house burning down. It can also be viewed using a smart phone with headphones or a laptop.

    “Until you experience a fire, you’ve got no idea what it’s like,” New Zealand Fire Service station officer and training officer Chris Kennedy said.

    “The Escape My House VR activity allows members of the public to see and hear what a house fire is truly like for themselves.

    “We don’t want to scare people, but it’s an activity to teach others how to get out safely and quickly. It also shows why we all need working smoke alarms, a clear escape plan and a safe meeting place.”

    Invercargill Fire Station senior firefighter Murray Milne-Maresca said if people were not out of their home within three minutes of a house fire, they would be in trouble because of the extreme heat and toxic gases and smoke, with the temperature inside a burning house capable of rising to more than 1000degC at the ceiling.

    “People don’t realise the speed in which a fire spreads.

    “Our message is clear – get out, stay out and wait for emergency services to arrive.”

    Invercargill had one of the highest rates of house fires per capita in New Zealand, due in part to people’s apathy and the colder climate, Mr Milne-Maresca said.

    “We need to reduce these incidences… help us by using this tool and developing an escape plan. It is easy and it could help save lives.

    “We can replace property, but we can’t replace lives.”

    For more information, visit ww.escapemyhouse.co.nz

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