Academic Research Event: Survivability – The Evidence

On Monday 27th April, CFOA were pleased to be supporting West Midlands Fire Service’s sharing and learning event at Coventry University, which brought together academics and subject matter experts from across the United Kingdom to discuss survivability and human behaviour during fires.

The first speaker was Rob Fenwick, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner with Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, who discussed the latest research on extrication and interventions for trapped patients, in particular from vehicle crashes. Rob emphasised the critical role of fire and rescue services in protecting and saving the lives of people in this situation through early trauma care. His research also indicates that the established approaches to vehicle extrication may not be much safer than quicker snatch rescues, but in fact place patients at increased risk due to the delay in getting them to hospital to receive treatment. Watch Rob’s full presentation below.


Next up was Richard Walker, a West Midlands Fire Service Fire Engineer working with the University of Central Lancashire on Fire Survivability and the importance of response times. Richard’s research has used real life testing to look at the spread of smoke and flames within a building and how long a person can survive in such conditions. He has focused particularly on accidental dwelling fires, and also considers the full range of factors that determine the attendance time of fire appliances. We will upload a recording of Richard’s presentation shortly.

In the afternoon Dr Gail Steptoe-Warren and Thomas Evans from Coventry University’s Psychology department looked at the behaviour of both firefighters and the public when a fire occurs. Dr Steptoe-Warren considered the psychological skills and heuristics utilised by firefighters when fighting fires and making command decisions. The first part of her presentation is below.


Thomas Evans discussed the ways members of the public react when they suffer a fire at home, which has implications for fire safety education. It emerges that many do not follow the established get out, stay out, dial 999 procedure, for a number of reasons.


Michael Wright from Greenstreet Berman then presented the latest research on the impact of response times on life chances in fires, RTC and special service calls. In particular he looked at the increasing response times caused by both traffic and also changes to service provision.

Finally, David Wales from Kent Fire and Rescue Service presented on the LifeBid programme, which like the research discussed by Thomas Evans, considers the ways in which victims respond to a fire in their home. It makes use of sophisticated tools to get an idea of the full range of actions undertaken by fire victims, and their responses and reasoning. We will upload a recording of David’s presentation shortly.

The presentations delivered by each of the speakers can be accessed below:

For more information, please get in touch with the CFOA communications team:


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