Incident Server and Clients for firefighters’ training centre Schiphol

Since 2017 the Black Box is available for the Schiphol fire department. It is a modular training environment developed by FireWare that can be swiftly transferred and adjusted to new situations. Two years after its first use, the next phase presents itself: a fully automatic control panel to operate the scenarios and special effects! 

Maximum flexibility – minimum object fatigue

The Black Box was developed taking maximum flexibility into account. An airport is a complex environment, and therefore it is impossible to permanently install all necessary training facilities. This is why we created a training environment in which the setup of any exercise requested can be realized: a modular system of cubes, walls, doors and other stage elements that can be placed in an entirely other or slightly adjusted setup in a blink of an eye.

The flexible design prevents object fatigue from occurring. Object fatigue is the phenomenon where trainees get tired of using the same location, setup and training materials time and again as they know exactly which doors to open, where the hearth can be found and what tricks and distracters to expect.

Dynamic staging

In addition to the constructional elements, the incident’s setup also matters. What is burning? Why does it burn and what escalations can be expected? By creating a challenging setup, the trainee will face dilemmas. It is important for the instructor to properly act upon the trainee’s decisions. An effortless, efficient operation of the setup is essential to a successful training. The training becomes interactive; the trainee learns from his decisions and will benefit from an optimal learning experience.

Incident Server and Incident Clients to influence all incidents

In order to control all special effects from a single panel, the choice was made to use an Incident Server combined with five Incident Clients. The instructor operates all aspects of the incident from a distance, using a tablet. There are numerous sound effects, flame effects and smoke generators that can be used if the scenario asks for it. It is also possible to store certain scenarios or certain scenarios’ phases. Preprograming a scenario when you have a moment, and use it by one touch of the button if the occasion arises. A fuse box fire, a frying pan catching fire; those are just two out of many options. Incidents not involving fire, like escalator accidents, people getting trapped in a sealing machine or locked in a cooler or a storage basement can also be simulated within minutes. It is even possible to create “hot doors” and of course to add sound effects to the scenario.

Practice gas detectors, AED and fire alarm panels

The instructor has control over all training materials, but there are other functionalities as well. By connecting several tablets, a second instructor can also operate the system. Or how about using a second tablet as a practice gas detector, AED or fire alarm panel? How flexible can we get! Of course, the system also disposes of the possibility of simulating the manual activation of a fire alarm and has many other indicators.

Evidence-based learning by video evaluation

There is a webcam installed on each and every Incident Server and Incident Client. The instructor has a live view of the events and consequently can immediately (de-)activate special effects at the exact time needed. The Schiphol fire department even takes it to the next level by integrating a state-of-the-art camera system recording the training sessions. These images can be watched on the tablet itself, or at a later stage in the debriefing room to help evaluate or debrief the fire fighters!