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Human behaviour research

Human behaviour research

Introduction

As a result of Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) noting an increasing number of incidents during which the public did not follow established FRS (fire and rescue service) advice KFRS sought to improve its understanding of human behaviour. However a lack of relevant academic literature and recent studies meant at that stage too little in the way of structured evidence was available to inform alternatives. In light of this, KFRS decided to initiate its own research project to explore people’s behaviours and motivations during an ADF (accidental dwelling fire).

Project history

2010 Qualitative study

KFRS Research Team undertook a qualitative study and interviewed members of the public who had experienced an ADF and received minor injuries. Results were published as a journal paper and presented at the International Symposium of Human Behaviour in Fire.

2011 Human behaviour in fire workshop

KFRS and Canterbury Christ Church University jointly organised a conference which brought together a range of leading human behaviour in fire experts. This proved to be a very successful event and confirmed the wider importance of a better understanding of human behaviour in dwellings.

2011 to 2013 Kent ADF study

KFRS undertook a study of human behaviour in ADFs within Kent. This study of people who had experienced an ADF led to over 500 people being spoken to and over 200 survey responses being received. Results were published as a conference paper and presented at the Interflam International Fire Science and Engineering Conference.

2013 to 2016 LIFEBID (Lessons In Fire & Evacuation Behaviour In Dwellings)

In partnership with the University of Greenwich, KFRS set up and ran the LIFEBID project (www.lifebid.co.uk). Involving 25 FRSs, sponsored by CFOA, and with funding provided by the government’s Technology Strategy Board and the EPSRC, LIFEBID built the world’s first large-scale database of human behaviour in dwelling fires. From this two conference papers have been published and presented at the International Symposium of Human Behaviour in Fire.

2013 to 2016 Fire Experience project

Leading on from the KFRS ADF study, the Fire Experience project was initiated. Sponsored by KFRS Chief Executive Ann Millington, its remit was to explore and understand the full experience of a fire from discovery to recovery as experienced by the public. In February 2016 the findings and recommendations from the Fire Experience project were presented to, and accepted by, KFRS Corporate Management Board.

2017 onwards

Following the success of the post-fire surveys to understand human behaviour the Chief Fire Officers Association is taking this forward with a view to developing it as an ongoing national survey. Interest received from abroad suggests a strong likelihood that this work will be repeated internationally.

What we’ve learnt

The work undertaken by KFRS and its partners to understand human behaviour in dwelling fires has provided a hitherto unmatched level of knowledge about this important area, which is supported by a robust, world-leading evidence base. The many benefits and insights include the identification of the different profile that exists between fire fatalities and fire injuries and with it the erroneous belief that injuries are simply near-miss fatalities. With operational response new ways of looking at and managing incidents have been identified. The work has also demonstrated improvements that could be made by the FRS to pre-hospital treatment of casualties. In addition it has highlighted the areas in which more can be done to assist the public to recover from the aftermath of a dwelling fire. Consequently, the knowledge gained by KFRS is being used to plan and develop a range of initiatives and responses that continue to ensure we offer the best service possible to the public whom we serve.

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