Fire safety is serious, but learning about it can be fun.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) is Western Australia's leading hazard management agency. They perform a critical role in coordinating emergency services for a range of natural disasters and emergency incidents threatening life and property.

The risk of severe bushfires has increased markedly in recent years. A spate of high-profile bushfires has elevated fire safety to a priority issue and DFES identified a lack of education resources on the topic as a significant issue.

DFES engaged Equilibrium to develop an eLearning tool and we worked with them to create an interactive website that serves as a teaching resource for primary schools that also fits within the Australian School Curriculum. It was the first program of its kind to be undertaken by DFES.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) website

The task

In conjunction with the development of a paper-based classroom resource, the web platform needed to teach key messages such as:

  • Identify unsafe fire times and risk
  • Understand bushfire intensity, behaviour and impact potential
  • Detect key bushfire ready factors to create a well prepared home
  • Increase capacity to deal with bushfire planning for living in bushfire risk areas
  • Raise understanding on how a bushfire can impact communities and on the importance of a bushfire survival plan.

The primary challenge was to make the learning experience enjoyable and engaging enough to develop a deep understanding of all the issues surrounding fire safety.

Gamifying the experience

Our concept was to create an online game called 'Bushfire Patrol'. The platform was designed to enable students to learn about fire prevention and safety by completing a number of fun and interactive missions.

The missions are titled What Bushfires Like, Bushfires Attack, Hazard Hunt, and Watch and Act, with each mission having a different game structure with unique objectives.

Real world lessons

The games were carefully constructed to ensure a high level of accuracy to simulate real world factors such as wind speeds, tree colours, cloud density and heat radiation. It was critical the animation, colour and general game environment would allow students to transfer their newly learnt online skills to real-life scenarios.

site interaction

Student curriculum

Although available to the general public, the website's main purpose is to operate within the classroom environment, overseen by the teacher. The teacher is provided print-based support material to integrate the program into the students' curriculum and to ensure they get the most from the experience.

Made for kids

The site design uses a vibrant colour palette and an illustration style influenced by Mid Century Modernism, resulting in a playful theme resonating with students in the 7-9 age group.

We were also tasked with developing the content strategy, ensuring the name of each mission and language used throughout the site was understandable and motivational for students.

Advanced technology

The site was built using leading-edge HTML5 technology but contains 'work arounds' allowing the site to function effectively on the older Internet Explorer 8 browser which is installed in most classrooms throughout WA. The HTML5 technology allows the site to work cross-platform, with particular focus on optimisation for the iPad.

Additionally, the site was optimised to work on interactive touch-screen whiteboards allowing the entire classroom to work together to complete the various missions.

Advanced Technology Screen

Be safe around water

We were also commissioned by DFES to develop a new app to help WA primary school kids identify and manage risks around water this summer. We turned the dry subject matter into an engaging electronic game, where children navigate through high-risk scenarios such as crossing floodwaters, ocean swimming and fishing off rocks.

Be safe around water iPad app screen
Engaging Game Play

Engaging gameplay

The game involves the player having to identify safety concerns to unlock each level. The app was launched at the Perth Royal Show and is available on both the Google and Apple app stores, plus playable arcade-style at the DFES museum.