Case Study:
Fire Engine Experience
Ride Along on a Rescue Mission

Formations Inc. of Portland, Oregon was contracted to design an immersive ride along experience in a real America LaFrance Eagle Fire Engine cab. Their client, the Portland Fire Bureau had a donated front cab section from a real fire engine, complete with most all electrical systems. The vacant engine compartment became the AV systems bay and the cabin interior became a virtual theater where visitors can experience the sights, sounds and even feeling of being a fire fighter during an emergency response call.

Video and audio for the experience was recorded using High Definition MPEG video recorded with two Sony HD Camcorders mounted to a custom rigging on the front of an active duty America LaFrance Eagle Fire Engine. They used two camcorders to record a front driver and passenger perspective view of the roadway in front of the fire engine. Later these two video streams were to become the virtual windshield of the simulation experience.

Name Portland Fire Bureau
Contact Formations Inc.
Installation Chris Williams


Show Control


The Fire Engine Experience is built around an Alcorn McBride V4+ Show Controller and a pair of DVM/HD High Definition Video Players reproducing the two MPEG-2 HD Video Streams from each emergency response call. One HD video player is used for each windshield view. The virtual windshields are actually a pair of 42” LG LCD Flattron HD Monitors mounted inside the cab just forward of the windshields. The V4+ controls the monitors via. serial port commands to bring the monitors in and out of standby mode depending on activity levels.

The Audio program is reproduced with a 4-Channel Class D Amplifier system that includes a powered Sub-Woofer system behind the officer’s seat. The V4+ Show Controller monitors both cabin doors and all 4 rear passenger seatbelts, as well as controlling the cabin lighting levels through a Bluepoint Engineering Serial to DMX Transmitter and an Elation DMX Dimmer pack. A non-regulated DC power supply is controlled by one channel of the dimmer pack to control the cabin lights.

The cabin lights are smoothly faded up and down in brightness in response to cabin doors opening and closing, and just prior to and after a response runs. WinScript made writing the dimmer script events easy with its flexible sequence looping and use of variables and flags.

The V4+ Show Controller is tied into the electrical systems of the Fire Engine through either input contact closures for door switches and seatbelts or relay outputs to control cab systems via. control switches and the cabs Power Load Management System. Connections to cab systems was accomplished using the I/O Breakout Boards and any high current loads were isolated with power relays controlled by the V4+ internal relays.

The V4+ controls the Front and Overhead Cab Ventilation Fans, Emergency Light Bar System, Side Scene Lights, and the Front Corner Flasher/Turn Signal lights. DC power for all cab systems is provided by a pair of Extron 13.8VDC rack mountable power supplies, delivering a total of 100 Amps of current, 110 Amps peak.

In addition to the existing systems, the cab is equipped with a pair of Vibco Industrial Impact Vibrators that simulate the vibrations and sounds of a diesel engine starting and revving during the ride along experience. Here too, two channels from the DMX dimmer pack ramps the speed of the twin vibrators up and down in response to script events in WinScript.

The V4+ also controls a Gilderfluke SD-25 Digital Audio Player, providing cabin Alert Messages during the Response experience whenever a door or seatbelt is opened. A ventilation fan circulates air flow inside the engine compartment to keep all A/V equipment cool during operations.

All control sequences are scripted in the Alcorn McBride’s control language using WinScript. This scripting language allows events to occur with single frame accuracy down to 1/30th of a second. Alcorn’s WinScript development software made the complex sequences and critical event timing possible to make this experience a virtual and real success for both Formations and the Portland Fire Bureau.

The Main A/V Components are located behind an access cover inside the engine compartment. These include the Alcorn McBride V4+ Show Controller, DVM/HV High Definition Video Players, Ashly SRA Series Ampifier and a Mid-Atlantic Power Center w/pull out lighting bar.

During any of the five Emergency Responses, the WinScript events are timed to activate cab systems at appropriate times as the video of the response plays.


3300 S. Hiawassee Rd.
Bldg. 105
Orlando, FL 32835

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