Wildfire Simulation Technology – Part 1

These days, with fire departments hampered by tight budgets, training (particularly large-scale exercises) may get cut in order to staff enough personnel. However, the effectiveness of computer-based simulations has begun to catch up with the...


“If an instructor wants to use the software to present simulations in a classroom or on a standalone computer they only need the Instructor Module which is $1,499,” said Bostwick. “The Effects Module [$499] adds more effects and the StageIT Student Module [$149] is only needed if they want to network in other computers and be able to present simulations to students remotely.”

Bostwick believes tighter budgets are bringing the training back in house, so trainers say, “What can I do as an instructor here to have a good, interesting and viable training situation for my people?” He adds that Seattle had a mass-casualty training exercise a few years ago, where they were bringing in different agencies to participate. “It was about a $1 million event,” Bostwick said. “So what could your department do with an extra million dollars?

Visit www.action-training.com/product.aspx?training=StageIT_Emergency_Response_Simulator&pid=541 for more information on StageIT and Action Training Systems.

XVR

Based in Boise, ID, Bravo Delta, Inc, is the parent company of Total Immersion Simulation Systems (TISS), purveyors of a unique fire simulator that uses animation to allow users to model a wide variety of situations, including wildfires. The TISS environments are powered by E-sembles’ XVR [short for eXercise Virtual Reality and eXam Virtual Reality] training software. Through the use of XVR, they offer 2D or 3D visuals for their simulated environments. Their simulator packages are scalable from a single PC program to custom-made environments with immersion rooms or dome projection. Dennis Hulbert, a partner in Bravo Delta and a 38-year veteran of the fire service who retired as a Regional Aviation Officer with US Forest Service, provides some insight on this unique simulator.

“Our action-based scenarios use the latest technology to support ‘active learning’ [the learner is not restricted to follow a predefined learning path and not restricted to reading and observation] by immersing students into operational and tactical learning domains where, as individuals or working teams, they engage in interactive role playing with other trainees and educators,” Hulbert explained. “An active learner can interact with other trainees and the educator in the simulated environment and can learn by experimenting in the learning domain.”

Trainees have a variety of ways to experience the simulation. “Using a joystick, XVR allows one or more incident response professionals to walk, drive or fly around in the simulated reality of an incident,” Hulbert explained. “While the students are distracted by surrounding noise and confusion, they are expected to focus on their tasks and to set priorities.”

And instructors have total control over the simulations they are running. “Instructors have the ability to incrementally increase the complexity of the scenario or, more importantly, freeze the scenario at any moment to give individual feedback or to discuss alternative decisions with the trainee(s),” said Hulbert. “TISS also has the capability to link remotely located participants, thereby giving them the ability to interact with others who are actively involved with the simulated exercise.”

Unlike many other simulators that require the input of actual photos or videos, XVR provides everything you need, but you had better have a fairly high-performance system and at least 50 GBytes of room on your hard disk, because you’re going to need it! In addition to Windows 7 Operating System and a Logitech Extreme 3D Pro joystick, the requirements for a computer system to run XVR are as follows:

Desktop PC

Processor: Intel Xeon quad-core Processor (3.20 GHz, 8 MB cache, 1066-MHz memory)

Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450

Monitors: Minimal height resolution of 1024

Laptop PC

Processor: Intel Core i7-640M Processor

Internal memory: 8 GB 1333-MHz

Graphics card: NVIDIA Quadro FX 1800M 1GB

Disk Drive: 500-GB 7200-rpm SATA II

XVR pricing depends on the scope of a department’s training program: for a single virtual environment, a user would pay $2,100 per PC per year; for four virtual environments it would be $8,400 per PC per year; and for those wanting to model all virtual environments, the price goes up to $10,500 per year per PC.

To see more about this product, visit www.bravodeltainc.com.