Author Bio ▼

IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
January 4, 2024


Whitepaper: Enhancing security, resilience and efficiency across a range of industries

fire safety

New app launched to enhance mandatory fire safety training in the NHS

A fire safety app has launched with the aim of transforming mandatory fire safety training for NHS staff through extended reality (XR).

The app is said to show users how to fight fire on hospital wards and healthcare settings through a range of scenarios, including sequencing of evacuation, selection of extinguishers and which door to open.

A virtual world for training

These simulated scenarios use interactive 360 video and Virtual Reality (6 degrees of Freedom), the ability to physically move and pick up objects in a digitally created, three-dimensional space.

VR headsets are designed to provide users with a realistic, 360-degree view of a virtual world where various fire hazards can be present. This more easily enables large groups of people to be trained at once without any risks associated with injuries.

The app was designed and created by Professor Jag Dhanda, Honorary Professor of Surgery at Brighton, and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) and Visiting Professor of Extended Reality in Medicine and Surgery (Kingston Business School, Kingston University, London), Dr Jonathan Fenn, BSMS education fellow in XR, Paul O’Donnell, the Fire Safety Officer, at Queen Victoria Hospital and Cineon VR developers.

The app is part of the Virtual Reality in Medicine and Surgery (VRiMS) project led by Prof Dhanda, which specialises in creating extended reality resources through virtual and augmented reality. VRiMS is a research group that evaluates this technology and explore its utilisation in global health and surgical training.

The project received funding from Health Education England (now NHS England) to develop the training app, which is said to be the first of its kind to tackle fire safety training through XR. The scenarios in the app were informed by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, who are helping to rollout the app to more than one million NHS colleagues in the UK. The virtual reality app was created using a digital twin of a ward on Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

Extended reality “profound role to play” in future

Commenting on the app, Prof Dhanda said: “Extended reality will have a profound role to play in training the next generation of healthcare workers, and VRiMS believes it will help to deliver the NHS workforce plan. We are also convinced of its huge role in global health and the VRiMS research group evaluates it benefits in healthcare training. This project opens the door to virtual reality for the 1.3 million NHS workers who require fire safety mandatory training every year.”

Rosie Courtney, Programme Lead, Simulation Based Education & Technology Enhanced Learning and Patient Safety, South East, NHS England, added: “NHS England are delighted to support the innovative approaches of developing extended reality to enhance the education and training of our multi-professional workforce, in a truly system-wide, multi-agency and collaborative way.”

West Sussex Fire Crew at East Grinstead, which came together with VRiMS to help bring this fire safety project to life, said: “Through an exhilarating partnership with the NHS, West Sussex fire and rescue service has ushered in a new era of fire safety training, utilising immersive virtual reality experiences to enhance hospital fire safety for the community and staff.”

The next step in rolling out the fire safety app, according to VRiMS, will be a series of pilot studies at BSMS and Queen Victoria Hospital, on which the scenarios were based, with a view to making this mandatory training for all NHS staff.

EBOOK: Lessons from FIREX 2023 – Emerging challenges in fire safety

Read our FREE eBook, which provides a summary of the key debates and presentations that took place at FIREX 2023 in May, alongside additional exclusive content for readers.

Chapters cover new fire safety construction guidance, how to mitigate the risk of lithium-ion battery fires, and evacuation planning. There's also exclusive insight into the resident's view of the building safety crisis, and how the fire safety and sustainability agendas can work together.


Related Topics