arsonA unique research project into how people react when a blaze breaks out in their home has been awarded funding which will see the work rolled out across the South East and eventually nationally.

The project is jointly led by Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) and the Fire Safety Engineering Group (FSEG) of the University of Greenwich.

Fire motivation 
The project will involve contacting thousands of people who experience a house fire in a bid to understand their actions and motivations both during and after a fire, something which has never before been done on this scale. It will provide increasingly detailed knowledge of how the Fire and Rescue Services can improve or develop new services, by combining their knowledge and experience with a better understanding of what specific advice and support the public need. Learning from those who have experienced a fire is an excellent way to ensure that emergency advice and services are relevant and effective.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership
KFRS Investigation and Research Manager David Wales and Professor Ed Galea, Director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group University of Greenwich have been awarded £160,000 over three years under the Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme.
Wales said: “By actively seeking and listening to the victims of fire in Kent over the past two years we have recognised that there are areas where we can enhance our services by placing their requirements and expectations at the heart of our thinking and planning. Alongside this we have had to challenge (and in some respects identify) some of our own organisational beliefs and perceptions. This approach demonstrates a commitment to achieving not just a good outcome for the victim but the “best possible outcome”, both at the time of the incident and in the longer term.”

Accidental dwelling fires
KFRS is currently working with the University of Greenwich to analyse surveys from 180 Kent residents who have suffered house fires – known as “accidental dwelling fires” (ADFs). The results from this will directly inform KFRS services and also the next stage of the research. This will involve participation by eight other FRSs in the South-East region who have also committed to support the project in their own areas.
Prof Galea added: “The study of human behaviour in domestic fires has been neglected for over 40 years, yet most fire fatalities occur in domestic dwellings. By understanding how people behave in these situations we hope to greatly improve survivability in domestic fires.”