Traditional fire drills, which require hundreds of building occupants to gather in stairwells and in assembly areas, are problematic during a pandemic. Even after public officials authorize a return to full occupancy, tenants in high-rise office buildings will remain leery of participating in drills for the foreseeable future.
To help buildings maintain their life safety and risk management programs during the pandemic, AK Preparedness has introduced virtual reality fire drills, our latest addition to the SafetyNet suite of technology solutions.
With SafetyNet VR, AK’s production team builds a complete photo-realistic model of the building’s interior, including the common areas on each floor, lobbies, and stairwells. Then, using a smartphone, tablet, or desktop, building occupants can:
- Leave their suite, locate stairwells and fire extinguishers and fire alarm pull stations
- Travel down all stairwells to their relocation floor and evacuate the building to their assembly area
- Learn to use emergency phones and other life safety devices
- Receive drill instruction from a firefighter
Several fire departments around the country have already approved the new technology as an acceptable alternative fire drill format during the pandemic, and most major-city departments are currently evaluating it.
VR fire drills offer many advantages over traditional drills:
- Convenience. Building occupants can conduct the drill when convenient. And building staff don’t need to worry about scheduling drills during bad weather.
- Reporting. Building staff can track and report on everyone who participates.
- Safety. No gathering is required, and there’s no risk from slip-and-falls.
- Enhanced Learning. VR offers a richer learning experience. Users can find and descend all stairwells, not just one, learn how to use life safety equipment, etc.
- Day One Training. New tenants and even new hires can participate in a fire drill Day One in the building.
- No Disruption. VR drills avoid the major disruption created by traditional fire drills.
VR fire drills cannot and should not replace traditional in-the-stairwell fire drills. Building occupants still need to get into their stairwells and develop true muscle memory. But VR drills should prove to be an excellent long-term supplement and enhancement, much as online life safety training now supplements live training.
Contact us for more information and to schedule a demo.