On Friday March 24th, 2017 eight students from the UQ Fire Safety Group visited the live fire training center of the the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES). During their visits the students had the opportunity to go through one of the training exercises Queensland firefighter recruits go through.
As part of the demonstration students got to wear a full turn out gear including a breathing apparatus. More importantly, the students got the opportunity to experience a compartment fire in a controlled environment. The experience was very unique to students, since it gave them a chance to experience the conditions of a real fire such and observe the type of situation for which they design. Below is a quote from one of the Master’s of Fire Safety Engineering that attended:
“Being in the container allowed me to experience how fire reacts to the environment, and confirmed my understanding that changing small aspects of the ventilation and geometry has a large effect on the size and visibility. As a fire engineer it also made me appreciate what fire fighters experience, and highlighted that our designs can become their workplace.”
Not all learning is intended to happen in the classroom, and this is an excellent example of how real-life experiences can enhance learning. Moreover, this unique experience allowed the students to put themselves in the shoes of the firefighters and get to know what it means to wear a full turn out gear and experience elevated temperatures in a compartment fire.
The close collaboration between UQ Fire and QFES goes beyond the Live Fire Training session for students. UQ Fire has developed short course for QFES personnel, and QFES representatives have attended student presentations and given guest lectures at UQ. This degree of collaboration is aimed at developing culture of mutual co-operation between the fire safety engineers and the fire service.