Prize money won by East Sussex and Kent fire and rescue services has been donated to charities dedicated to helping burns victims and promoting electrical safety.

The 2011 FIRE Magazine/Gore Research Excellence Award was presented to researchers from East Sussex and Kent fire and rescue services following presentations given at this year's national Fire-Related Research and Developments event held at the Fire Service College in partnership with the Institution of Fire Engineers.  

David Wales and Owain Thompson, from Kent Fire and Rescue Service's (KFRS) Fire Investigation and Research team, decided to give their £500 winnings to the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, and the Children's Burns Trust, London.

Mark Hobbs, from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS), combined his prize money with a £1,000 donation from the family of a lady that died following a fire in an electrical intake and a matched donation from the Electrical Safety Council for it to be used to further promote electrical fire safety. It was this tragic fatal fire which had originally initiated Mark's research and further investigation into electrical intake fires.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service earned their accolade for their pilot study which looked at those suffering injuries in Accidental Dwelling Fires (ADFs) in order to further improve understanding of people's actions during fires. The success of this pilot has directly led to KFRS designing and implementing a survey that allows KFRS to collect data of the behaviours of those directly experiencing an ADF.

Owain and David delivered a presentation which outlined what is currently known about human behaviour in fire - which is traditionally based on public, commercial and industrial spaces - and the gap in knowledge that exists on human behaviour in ADFs. They argued that it is necessary for fire services to develop an understanding of occupant behaviour in ADFs in order to try and reduce the frequency and impact of these incidents.

Much credit is also given to Mark Hobbs, ESFRS's Protection Policy and Support Manager, for his research into fires involving electrical intakes. His work has helped highlight the nature and scale of fires involving electrical intakes, covering cause and effect, and the work that is currently being achieved through the Chief Fire Officers Association and the electrical industry to achieve improvements through the national SMART meter programme.

Mark said: "My research identified a number of opportunities, including the benefits of working with partners such as the Electrical Safety Council and also the need to better share the outcomes of fire investigations. This eventually led to the creation of the 'Black Museum' website: .

"Also, working with the electrical industry through the national SMART Meter programme has identified a number of solutions with the potential to achieve safety improvements within the electrical intake area of over 26 million properties within the UK (domestic and commercial)."

KFRS's Investigation and Research Manager, David Wales, said: "Ultimately both pieces of research were motivated by the desire to reduce further the numbers of injuries and deaths occurring in fire. Therefore, it was only fitting to donate the money to causes dedicated to helping people suffering from burns trauma.

"We are delighted to have won the award, alongside East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, because it acknowledges just how important it is to understand human behaviour in fire in order to help reduce both the frequency of house fires in the county, and the injury and distress that they cause."

Ann Millington, Chief Executive, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Our community safety work, including the installation of smoke alarms and public education, has seen the number of fires in Kent fall by a third over the last ten years. However, there is still a long way to go to further reduce accidental fires in the home and the impact these have on those that are involved in them.

"The work that Owain and David have undertaken to understand how people behave during fire promises to provide us with the best foundation on which to progress our prevention work. I am thrilled that the research they have so far undertaken has been given the acknowledgment it deserves."
Des Prichard, Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive, ESFRS, said: "Much work has been undertaken to identify the causes of accidental dwelling fires, with electrical faults known to be one of the primary factors. Mark Hobbs, through his diligence, perseverance, knowledge and expertise has clearly shown that electrical intakes can be a contributor to the cause of accidental dwelling fires.

"Perhaps more importantly, Mark's work with the Electrical Safety Council and others has identified ways in which the cause can be mitigated, thereby improving safety in the home for all."


Photo: Joint winner of the 2011 FIRE Magazine/Gore Research Excellence Award Mark Hobbs from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service


Posted January 3rd, 2012 at 1410 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: