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Sacramento Fire Department Turns To Virtual Reality, TikTok For Recruitment

SACRAMENTO (CBS) - The Sacramento Fire Department turned to virtual reality and TikTok to recruit the next generation of firefighters in a competitive job market.

In three virtual reality scenarios, anyone can experience what it may look like to be a firefighter. The scenarios include inside a fire, vehicle extraction, and ladder climb.

Shot by Sacramento Fire Captain Lawrence Whang on a GoPro, the videos are meant to put the viewer inside the experience. With 360-degree views of these scenes, the tool is the future of the fire department's recruitment.

"We want young, middle-aged, old to be able to see what firefighters are able to do," said Whang. 

The tool will be used at public events, like high schools or job fairs, to connect more people with the work firefighters see on the job.

The first public use of the VR tools will be at the November 5th Kings Game at Golden1 Center.

This isn't the only tool the department is using to recruit new talent.

On the social media video-sharing app, TikTok, is the department's most-followed account with more than 64,000 followers.

"Someone's going to grab the young people's attention of the day, why not the fire department?" asks Keith Wade, the department's spokesperson.

Wade said he wasn't sold on the idea of putting the department on TikTok when it was first pitched. That is until he saw the engagement that took place on their posts.

The official department's page has gone "viral" -- the most viewed video from the account has more than 7 million views, 1 million likes, and more than 20-thousand comments.

Those interactions could be future firefighters, Wade hopes.

"It can have huge results as people start to see, 'Oh I can do this.' We're there to support them, push them through the door into a world of firefighting," said Wade.

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