RE15 180The winners of the FIRE Magazine/Gore Research Excellence Awards have been crowned at the RE15 Conference hosted by the Institution of Fire Engineers and the Fire Service College.

Dr Gail Steptoe-Warren and Thomas Evans of Coventry University claimed the top prize of Research Excellence along with a cheque for £1,000 to go towards further research on their presented project 'The Development of a Situational Judgement Test to Assess Operational Preparedness'.

The research presented at the College by Evans builds upon a previous project conducted with West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS), commissioned due to two major incidents where members of the general public and fire personnel lost their lives (Atherstone Plant and Galston Mine). These incidents highlighted the need to measure and evaluate Operational Preparedness (OP) as a key component of the fatality risk using job analyses and critical incident techniques.

Their creation of a model of OP alongside an organisation-level Situational Judgement Test (SJT) and bespoke SJT for bronze-level commanders was described by judges as having "revolutionised the theoretical understanding of operational performance and driven significant changes in practice".

Elsewhere, Bradley Frost and Dr Emma Dean of Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service claimed the poster prize and a research cheque for £250 for their description of the Post Incident Research Programme.

The project aimed to understand human behaviours in accidental dwelling fires and enhance GMFRS’ understanding of at-risk groups through semi-structured interviews with individuals that have experienced such fires. Through having a Research and Evaluation Officer in post and undertaking qualitative research into the social factors which increase the risk of fire, the judges felt GMFRS had made "a groundbreaking contribution".

Programme Co-ordinator Dr Anne Eyre praised the overall quality of entries at this year's event, highlighting presentations on topics ranging from 'Performance Management and Financial Resilience' to 'Operational Assessment and Peer Challenge for Fire and Rescue Services'.

To read a full review of RE15 including judges' insights and pictures of the winners subsribe to the December/January issue of FIRE Magazine