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Humberside Fire and Rescue Service are using new innovative ways to further develop and maintain staff skills, to continue supporting the communities across the Humber region, as well as share with our Fire Service colleagues across the country.

Our Learning and Development Support team has been exploring various ways of supporting learning for all staff, aiming to make learning more accessible and diverse in its methods to tackle barriers to learning.

There are many challenges operational staff encounter, such as situational awareness of a range of uncommon incidents. Due to the nature and variety of incidents that operational staff attend, some of these scenarios are extremely difficult to recreate practically in a realistic manner.

To help overcome these challenges, the team have explored and implemented the use of XVR (virtual reality) to simulate operational incident scenarios.

Using this technology allows the team to recreate virtually any type of scenario, and because it's on a digital platform, operational staff can now access training materials from any location.

This is particularly important where there may be limited exposure to incident types due to location and shift systems.

Although it's not a replacement for all practical operational training, the quality of materials the team has developed has significantly increased our staff's knowledge.

Josh Turner, Watch Manager Learning and Development team, commented, “Our staff using virtual reality in addition to practical training methods has provided many other benefits.

“Such as reducing the need to travel to locations, which has reduced fuel consumption and emissions. Crews can train at their home station, which means they can provide an operational response, and this is important to our communities in remote and rural areas where most of our On-Call crews are based.

“Time efficiency is another area that has seen significant improvement. Previously, learning materials and lectures would be done by visiting each station and each watch. This would take a lot of time to do and could prove logistically difficult to engage with all staff effectively.

“Working with colleagues at South Yorkshire and other Fire and Rescue Services across the country, the Learning and Development team has shared resources and skills, helping reduce costs and drive efficiency for all involved.

Dave Collingwood, Head of Operational Training said, “We are continuing to discover ways to improve the range of learning materials and methods. The team is now developing a range of informative learning video packages called ‘Operational Tech Tips’ that use evaluation data and assessment results to focus on areas of development to reinforce training.

In addition to using virtual reality, the Learning and Development team is exploring 360-degree video technology and drone use to complement learning materials. The use of technology has increased the options we can provide our staff with to improve their situational awareness and skills. Ensuring they maintain their skills to help keep our communities safe.”