Training Professional Fire Fighters

Our project aimed to improve the training of professional firefighters through the development of a Virtual Reality fire training system. By utilizing VR technology, the system provides a safe, reliable, and cost-effective way for firefighters to train in different scenarios. 
With our innovative training tool, firefighters can now simulate a wide range of scenarios, gaining valuable experience without putting lives at risk.
Our VR training system delivers a strong return on investment by reducing costs, improving readiness, and ultimately saving lives.

The Challenge

The Royal Military Academy (RMA) of Belgium wanted to investigate how novel technologies could help train their military personnel. As a first training need, fire fighting was defined. The project would develop a training application using Virtual Reality, that would be used to assess the performance of such a system in training professional firefighters. The RMA would assess the training effectiveness of the solution and build a fire hose to be integrated into the application.

The Solution

OneBonsai has developed a state-of-the-art training system in Virtual Reality which allows professional firefighters in the defense industry to train safely and reliably. The system provides multiple different training scenarios, in realistic environments. It allows the trainee to make use of a real fire hose, which full functionality is integrated into the VR environment. This way, the trainee can make use of the fire hose as they would normally do to extinguish a fire in Virtual Reality.

The system allows multiple people to join in the VR session, and cooperate to extinguish the virtual fire. An instructor can follow (remotely) and adjust the parameters of the VR scenario on the fly. This allows for a highly dynamic training session and can improve the training’s effectiveness.

The Approach

The RMA and Belgian Defense have set up a Triple Helix system to allow the development of this research project. OneBonsai’s team has participated in a real fire drill to experience firsthand what such a fire extinguishing procedure would entail. This allowed the developers and designers of OneBonsia to gain a better insight into the real end-user requirements and improve their understanding of the needs of the fire experts.

Together with these fire experts, OneBonsai has developed the VR fire system and provided a system that allows them to reach their training goals. This proof-of-concept product would then be further enhanced outside of the project by OneBonsai.

The Outcome

The Belgian Navy has been using the system for a while now. It has proven to be effective in training recruits and has been assessed as having great potential for (military) training. However, given the nature of the project – it was only a proof-of-concept – some shortcomings have been identified.


One of these was the lack of training scenarios integrated into the system. Indeed, the system only includes a limited number of environments and scenarios but will be extended in upcoming releases of the product. This however falls outside the scope of the proof-of-concept for the Belgian Defense.


Together with these fire experts, OneBonsai has developed the VR fire system and provided a system that allows them to reach their training goals. This proof-of-concept product would then be further enhanced outside of the project by OneBonsai.


This project has however proven to the Belgian Defense that effective cooperation is possible with corporate entities. Also, the Agile Development paradigm employed by OneBonsai has shown the Defense industry that quick results and iterations are possible. Aside from this project, this has opened up multiple different opportunities with and without OneBonsai for the Belgian Defense.

Together with these fire experts, OneBonsai has developed the VR fire system and provided a system that allows them to reach their training goals. This proof-of-concept product would then be further enhanced outside of the project by OneBonsai.

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What is VR training?

Virtual Reality (VR) training is using immersive technology such as VR headsets to practice certain skills or procedures. With VR training the emphasis is on the practical experience that the users experience. They can redo dangerous or difficult procedures as much as they like without any risk.

What are the benefits of VR for learning?

Studies have shown the benefits of using VR for cognitive stimulation. Due to a higher immersion in the training, the retention of the educational content is increased. Safer training: eliminating the risk of employees getting hurt or damaging equipment. It is also more cost-effective, allowing you to train multiple people for the same training at once. 

VR for blended learning?

Virtual Reality (VR) is a useful tool for blended learning because it allows learners to experience immersive and interactive simulations, which supplement traditional classroom or online learning. VR can enhance engagement and retention of information, provide a more memorable learning experience, and offer access to resources and experiences that may not be available through traditional learning methods.

Mobile VR vs PC VR, What is the difference?

We consider every VR headset that does not require a PC as Mobile VR. The best examples of Mobile VR are; Oculus Quest 1 or 2, Pico Neo 3 or 4, etc… PC VR requires an external PC to run the VR software in the VR headset. With this extra computing power it allows to have more realistic graphics or physics simulations (such as smoke development).

What is XR? (Extended Reality)

XR is a term that refers to extended reality, which is an umbrella term for immersive technologies that enhance, blend, or replace reality with computer-generated content. XR includes virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies.

What is standalone VR

Standalone VR refers to virtual reality headsets that don’t require a connection to a computer or a gaming console to function. These headsets have all the necessary hardware, including the processor, the display, the sensors, and the battery, built into the device itself.

How long should a training session be in VR?

We recommend short sessions varying from 10 to 20 minutes tops. But complete courses can go up to multiple hours, divided into shorter training sessions.

Are there disadvantages to using Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality (VR) can cause motion sickness or simulator sickness in some people. The symptoms of motion sickness in VR can include nausea, dizziness, sweating, and fatigue. This is because the VR experience can be so immersive that it can confuse the brain’s perception of balance and movement, causing a mismatch between what the eyes see and what the body feels.

Can VR be used for recruitment?

VR can be a useful tool for recruitment as it provides a more immersive and engaging experience for potential candidates. VR can simulate real-world scenarios and environments, allowing candidates to experience what it would be like to work in a particular role or industry before applying or accepting a job offer. VR can also be used to test candidates’ skills and abilities in a simulated environment, providing a more objective and standardized assessment. For example, a company could create a VR simulation of a factory floor or a customer service scenario, and assess candidates’ performance in that environment.