Fire service puts the public inside a burning house via virtual reality
Cowering inside a blazing building, watching a column of fire stream towards your face as the floor burns to 150 degrees – now you can experience the frightening horror of a house burning around you.
In what is believed to be a world first, the fire service has created Escape My House, a fully immersive virtual reality experience putting people inside a burning house.
Filmed using 360-degree cameras and a derelict Palmerston North house, the video shows how washing left by a heater can cause a house to be engulfed in flames within a few minutes.
People are given options about how to escape the house, and why certain ways – such as through a window that was painted shut – will not work.
Gauges show how the ceiling temperature accelerates to more than 900 degrees Celsius.
The video can be watched on phones, computers, virtual reality goggles or Google Cardboard headsets.
Palmerston North fire service training officer Chris Kennedy, who managed the project, said Escape My House was about getting people to put together escape plans.
Although 61 per cent of people said they had a plan, only 29 per cent had actually made and rehearsed them, he said.
"This will hopefully change those stats around for us."
After watching the Escape My House, people are directed to an escape planner, Kennedy said.
Another key message was showing how fast fire spread.
"In those first few moments it's flight or fight, so a key point is to make sure any escape plan is second nature," he said.
Alongside the launch of Escape My House, the Palmerston North fire service will be dropping painted rocks around the city as part of the Palmy Rocks project.
People who find the Escape My House rocks can take them in to the fire station, where they can be traded for Escape My House branded Google Cardboard goggles.
Kennedy said they were hoping to get the rocks out for the weekend.