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Bring on the Heat with a Virtual Fire Station Field Trip

Explore Every Inch of Fire Engines, Ambulances, and Rescue Boats Galore

While the grade school field trip to a fire station may be the most recent visit for many, The Duxbury Fire Department in Duxbury, Massachusetts has brought its fire station virtual and lets visitors experience what it’s like to be a first responder like never before. From a ride-along on the Duxbury brush truck, experiencing a real-life mud rescue and even looking at the extension of the 105-foot ladder from one of the station’s largest fire trucks, this experience is unbeatable.

A traditional fire department tour takes visitors through the station while showing off the fire engines and the importance of fire safety. With this Matterport 3D tour, the Duxbury Fire Station can be explored from anywhere, at any time to learn about the fire engines, rescue boats, ambulances and more. 

While roaming the model, take a look at the Mattertags with videos and descriptions to get a true feel for the various equipment used for emergencies – you might get a more in-depth understanding about firefighting than if you were visiting in-person. 

There is even the opportunity for young visitors to earn their junior firefighter certification, with a quest leading throughout the model to report findings to the captain. Find the quest on the Duxbury Fire Department website under education and download the Firefighter Quest PDF to start.

We spoke with the creator of this incredible virtual experience, Jessica Laaper, video photographer and web designer for J.Laaper Studios to learn what it was like to create the model.

Q: What inspired the 3D capture of the Duxbury Fire Station?

Since the start of Covid-19, many of the places that were once open to the public have been closed, causing some traditions to be put on hold. One of those time-tested traditions was our town’s annual fire department open house. Every year, the Duxbury Fire Department would open their doors to the community to learn about the firehouse, the fire and rescue apparatus and most importantly, fire prevention. Since the community can’t visit the firehouse this year, we thought we would bring the firehouse to them. 

One of the critical functions of the Fire Department is to teach public safety and fire prevention. They do this through both the open house and in-school classroom curriculum, which due to Covid, could not be done either. Through the use of the Matterport model, we were able to "virtually re-open” the fire department and also integrate it into the virtual fire prevention school curriculum, making it a powerful education tool for public safety awareness and fire prevention.

Q: What are the “must-sees” you want visitors to explore and why?

When developing the Matterport model, we realized that a “virtual” visitor could do a few things in the model that they couldn’t normally do in-person. One of the most exciting is climbing on top of the ladder truck. The view down the center of the aerial ladder is amazing and is not something “in-person” visitors would normally be able to do.  

Some other highlights from the Matterport Model is the brush truck which includes a “ride-along” video and Engine 2 which makes good use of Mattertags to describe the details of each of the apparatus compartments.

We have many Mattertags in the model which contain videos and “informational gems.”  Half of the excitement of the Duxbury Fire Station model is being able to explore all the additional content in pictures and videos. We have even created a “Firefighter Quest” for our younger visitors, which is similar to a scavenger hunt. In the quest, the children search for the answers in the model and once finished they email the quest to the Duxbury Fire Department to receive a personalized junior firefighter certificate.

Q: How will the model of the Duxbury Fire Station be used (first responder training, community virtual tours, etc.)?

The model will be used for community virtual tours and fire prevention education. Additionally, the models and Mattertags can be utilized as part of new firefighter education for equipment location/identification (Engine 2) as well as proper apparatus operation (Ladder 1).

Q: What’s the one thing you want visitors to take away after exploring the Duxbury Fire Station?

The primary purpose of our model of the Duxbury Fire Station is education. We want all visitors to have a better appreciation for fire safety and prevention, understand what firefighters do, and some basics about how they help in an emergency.

But most of all, we want our visitors to learn and enjoy exploring the firehouse.

Q: What were some of the challenges of scanning such a unique space with all of the large engines, equipment, etc.?

There were two big challenges with scanning a complex space such as the apparatus bay. The first was capturing scans from multiple vantage points and heights. This meant climbing on top of all the trucks to collect the necessary scans to create a high-quality model. The other challenge was timing as scanning the apparatus bay took several hours and during that time the fire department received calls they needed the equipment for.  Each time we had to pause until the trucks were back and placed in exactly the same location. 

Q: What was your favorite part about capturing the Duxbury Fire Station in 3D?

My favorite part of capturing the Duxbury Fire Station in 3D was learning about all of the trucks, equipment, and how firefighters use these tools to save lives and prevent loss. 

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

We invite you to visit the Duxbury Fire Department at http://duxburyfire.org to explore our virtual tour and to complete the quest.  In addition, we are expanding our public education to include the recently renovated “Next-Generation” Regional 911 center to help increase awareness of how the 911 system works.

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