For the first time the FIRE Magazine/Gore Research Excellence Award has been split between two winners: David Wales and Owain Thompson from Kent Fire and Rescue Service, and Mark Hobbs of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

This year's Fire Related Research and Developments (RE11) event from the Fire Service College saw a record number of entries for the FIRE Magazine/Gore Research Excellence Awards for best overall research project and presentation with a prize of £1,000, and poster display with a prize of £250. W.L. Gore and Associate's Product Specialist Dave Frodsham presented the awards with FIRE Editor Andrew Lynch at the close of the seminar held on November 17th.

RE11 is an annual event organised by the Institution of Fire Engineers and the Fire Service College, and has been supported by the FIRE and Gore awards for the last five years. Speaking on behalf of the panel at the presentation, FIRE Editor Andrew Lynch said that many of the entrants should consider resubmitting next year as they were of a very high standard, although in the early stages of development. The panel also faced a dilemma in not being able to choose between the two eventual winners, so opted for the joint award.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service's David Wales and Owain Thompson presented on 'Human Behaviour in Dwelling Fires: A Qualitative Insight' describing Kent's ground-breaking pilot study. East Sussex's Mark Hobbs paper, 'A Journey in Fire Investigation: Achieving Wider Outcomes' focussed on fires involving electrical intakes and has already led to improvements in the industry.

The Best Poster Award was presented to the display, 'What do V-signs do to drivers?', a challenging investigation into the inadequacies of warning signage at incidents. The award went to Graham Edgar, Di Catherwood, Geoff Sallis, Helen Edgar and Andrew Medley.


Human Behaviour in Dwelling Fires

David Wales and Owain Thompson's presentation outlined what is currently known about human behaviour in fire, notably is traditional focus on public, commercial and industrial spaces and the gap in knowledge that exists on human behaviour in accidental dwelling fires (ADFs). The presenters argued that it is necessary for fire services to develop a generalised understanding of occupant behaviour and motivations in ADFs. They identified and outlined some of the circumstances and motivating factors which may result in clear differences between human behaviour in home fires compared to fires in other public spaces.

The speakers addressed how, in order to begin to understand occupant behaviours and motivations, Kent Fire and Rescue Service undertook a qualitative pilot study of those suffering injuries in ADFs. The reasons behind adopting a qualitative approach were explained along with the associated benefits and drawbacks. The presentation drew attention to the fact that although the pilot included only a small sample size, its value lies in the depth and richness of the data obtained.


A Journey in Fire Investigation

In his presentation Mark Hobbs highlighted the benefits of fire investigation by portraying as a journey the presenter's experience at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in the case of fires involving electrical intakes. In particular, the presentation highlighted a number of barriers and opportunities.

Barriers included the problems in accurately obtaining figures of occurrence and the nature of the problem due to the shortcomings of the Electronic Incident Recording System and the Fire Information National Data System. He explored the political difficulties that have arisen within the electrical industry in implementing the recommendations from the research project.

He identified opportunities such as building on the benefits of working with partners such as the Electrical Safety Council. There is also the potential to achieve improvements for safety within the electrical intake area of approximately 26 million domestic properties within the UK as well as commercial ones. There is also an opportunity to better utilise and promote fire investigation as a tool to influence fire safety improvements to achieve safer and more sustainable communities.

The presentation highlighted the nature of the issue 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.


What Do V-signs Do to Drivers?

The winning poster presentation looked at the effectiveness of the 'inverted V' pattern on emergency vehicles and the growing claim that many people involved in accidents "didn't see it". The project looks at the possibility that the pattern may generate spurious depth cues for the viewer, creating a false impression that distorts the lines in the pattern. The implications that this pattern is unlikely to reduce risk are huge as millions of emergency response vehicles use the lineage around the world.


FIRE will feature exclusive reports from the winners and other RE11 presenters in forthcoming issues. Visit for video footage from the event and regular blog updates on fire-related research.



Joint FIRE Magazine/Gore Research Excellence Award Winner 2011 Mark Hobbs, with Dave Frodsham and Andrew Lynch


Posted November 21st, 2011 at 1545 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: