Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann and Digital Minister Judith Gerlach today presented the new virtual training facility for fighting indoor fires at the State Fire Brigade School in Würzburg. “In future, our firefighters will be able to use so-called virtual reality goggles to realistically and safely play through all conceivable operational situations in simulations here without the need for time-consuming preparation of training scenarios. The virtual training is the optimal supplement for the practical training in the fire training house and an important milestone in the digitalisation of fire brigade training,” emphasised the Minister of the Interior. Gerlach explained: “The Digital Ministry is providing the fire brigade with around 260,000 euros for this project in order to advance one of the central technologies of the future. ‘Extended Reality’ can play to its full strengths, especially in the area of education and training.” For Gerlach and Herrmann, this is only the beginning of the development: “In the coming years, we also want to equip the districts and independent cities with such a training facility,” Herrmann announced. The Free State will provide a total of more than 650,000 euros for this purpose.
According to Herrmann, the new training facility significantly improves the previous training: “In the future, you can repeat all conceivable operational situations several times and even observe yourself in 3D space and analyse your own behaviour.” The new project is another component of the joint digitalisation strategy of the three state fire service schools. “In total, almost three million euros have been made available for projects to digitise fire service training since 2019. We have already successfully invested around 1.1 million euros, for example in our digital learning materials or innovative training tools in virtual reality,” said the Minister of the Interior. According to Digital Minister Gerlach, XR technology is therefore also an essential part of the state government’s high-tech strategy. “Our ambition is to actively shape developments in the XR field – with world-leading companies and research institutions from Bavaria as well as our traditionally strong creative sector. It is particularly important to me that we use technology for the benefit of citizens. Our vision is that digitisation brings real benefits for people.”
However, the state government is not only strengthening the training of fire brigades in the digital field: “We have invested more than 90 million euros in construction measures at the three Bavarian fire brigade schools since 2011.” According to Herrmann, optimal training and further education conditions are a worthwhile investment in the safety of citizens in the Free State. And in terms of personnel, the fire brigade schools have also been significantly strengthened, according to Herrmann. “Since 2010, the number of posts at the three fire service schools has more than doubled. This means that in 2023 we can also double the number of course places and offer more than 6,000 course places here in Würzburg alone.”