The New Zealand Fire Service is using virtual reality to show people what being inside a real house fire would be like, and to encourage them to make their own escape plan for the possibility.
Less than one third of New Zealand households have a detailed escape plan for fires. So, agency FCB New Zealand created a 360-degree experience, Escape My House, that uses real video footage from an actual house burning down. Filmed at a derelict home that was donated to the Fire Service for training purposes, it recreates a situation in which a fire was ignited by a clothes rack left too close to a heater, with everything catching fire exactly as it would in a real situation. The 360 degree cameras set up to capture the fire had to be proofed to withstand extreme heats.
Users are given seconds to escape the fire, but obstacles start to hinder their escape. The window is jammed. The front door is deadlocked. The experience is designed to show that if you haven't planned for this, your home can quickly become a death trap.
Having been prompted to input their own address at the beginning of the experience, once the user escapes, they are confronted with footage of their own house on fire, pulled in via Google StreetView. It then drives users through to an Escape Planner tool, where they form a plan in the event of a house fire.
Since the tool launched on March 22, it has been experienced over 120,000 times and has more than 10 million Facebook video views, including beyond New Zealand.