CFA and science work recognised

Dr James Mullins. (Louisa Jones) 411583_01

Matt Hewson

Geelong’s Dr James Mullins has been recognised on the King’s Birthday Honours List for decades of dedication to the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and his work as a researcher and innovator.

Dr Mullins, 43, was awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for 30 years of service with the CFA, 17 of which have been spent with Grovedale Fire Brigade, and his work at Deakin University and FLAIM Systems.

He said the award was a “surprise” and “a great honour”.

“It’s good recognition for the team that we’ve built and the people we’ve worked with,” he said.

“I don’t do what I do by myself; I surround myself with people who are a bunch smarter than I am.”

A former associate professor at Deakin’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation, Dr Mullins is chief technology officer and founding researcher of FLAIM Systems, which provides virtual reality training systems for firefighters and other service personnel.

A third-generation member of the CFA, Dr Mullins had a natural interest in developing training solutions for firefighters.

“We saw a need about 10 years ago when we were starting to shut down our hot fire training facilities because of the contamination (it) caused,” Dr Mullins said.

“I was doing a lot of work with Defence at the time, so we thought why not create alternate methods of training.”

FLAIM also innovates in the defence space, recently launching technology to train people to safely find landmines.

“I love seeing technology applied in new ways and changing the way we do things,” Dr Mullins said.

“I was that guy that used to break stuff, pull it apart and fix it and learn how to do new things.

“It was instilled in me at an early age that we’re on the planet for a little bit of time and hopefully we can make a difference in the time that we do have available.”