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FLAIM prepares regional Victorian communities for fire challenges


A trainee is fitted with a virtual reality headset and uses a handheld controller as he takes part in one of FLAIM’s immersive training solutions

Dr James Mullins is a third-generation volunteer firefighter and knows the importance of preparedness in Victoria’s regional areas.

"Coming into summer, we always need to be aware of the environment we live in," James said.

"We need to remind ourselves to remove leaves from gutters and check on piles of wood from the cooler months."

James saw a gap in knowledge amongst regional communities with everyday fire challenges and wanted to make sure they knew what to do if an emergency ever came up. From this, his idea for FLAIM was born in 2014 in a shed in his family hometown of Maryborough. A spot based right in the heart of the Victorian Goldfields region.

Using his experience in kinaesthetic learning tools through his study at Deakin University, and experience as a volunteer firefighter with the Country Fire Authority (CFA), James focused on fire emergencies – both outdoors and inside a home or business. With a team based in Geelong, they created an immersive environment to expose firefighters to real life situations.

Working late nights and early mornings to build both firefighter training and fire extinguisher training solutions, the now 30-person team consists of those with backgrounds in fire and defence along with a history of game design, software development and marketing.

"The immersive experience blends world leading technology and science to create real-world learning solutions in safe virtual environments," James said.

FLAIM’s goal is to improve the safety and performance for all those who respond to fire, rescue and emergency situations.

FLAIM’s immersive training solutions are supported by industry standard equipment that helps to imitate real world situations, whether that’s knowing how it feels to use a fire extinguisher or being lifted off your feet by a fire hose.

For community preparedness around bushfires, FLAIM is working with the CFA to continue to support those that protect properties and lives – both with its FLAIM Trainer and FLAIM Extinguisher training solutions.

"Most people have never had the opportunity to practice using a fire extinguisher, and all the data points to how effective they are if used correctly," James said.

"We want to increase the use of fire extinguishers and knowledge of how to use them."

More education for the community means less pressure on firefighters in small emergencies, and more chance of reducing the impact of fire on people and properties.

FLAIM now supplies to 35 countries including the United States and United Kingdom and is used by over 200 customers.

"We probably will never know if we’ve saved a life," James said.

"But we like to think we’ve made a difference, especially with helping people around the world."

FLAIM Systems is the recipient of the Business Achievement Award at the Victorian Community Achievement Awards 2022.

The Victorian Government, through Regional Development Victoria, has sponsored the awards for 13 years and is proud to support a program that encourages regional communities to grow and prosper.