Practical Assessment of the Dependence of Fire Service Intervention Times on Life Safety

Walker, Richard George (2017) Practical Assessment of the Dependence of Fire Service Intervention Times on Life Safety. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This research identifies realistic timelines for human survivability during accidental dwelling fires (ADF). It also establishes a time window within which the fire service is likely to affect a rescue of the occupants from ADFs. Through a comparison of these two timelines, the likelihood that the fire service will rescue an occupant before they receive a fatal dose of heat and/or smoke (asphyxiant gases) is established. The dependence of fire service intervention times is also assessed in the context of increasing intervention times resulting from cuts to fire authority budgets.
The results show that an increase in the time taken to affect a rescue will lead to an increase in the number of fatalities and the severity of injuries which occur when the occupants of a dwelling become trapped by (or are otherwise unable to escape from) fire within the property.
Around 80% of all fire deaths and injuries in Great Britain occur in dwellings. This study analyses national and local fire statistics to identify the typical fire situations and common circumstances which lead to fire deaths and injuries. This statistical analysis has been used to inform the carrying out of thirteen large-scale fire experiments. Asphyxiant gas concentrations and compartment temperatures were gathered during these experiments, in order to establish human survival times resulting from the adverse effects of exposure to these. Statistics have also been analysed and a methodology developed to establish fire service intervention times.
Establishing survival times on the basis of an analysis of national statistics constitutes new work within the field of community fire safety. In addition, the author is in a preferential position to establish realistic times for fire service interventions, and there is no evidence that these timelines have previously been developed to this extent or compared to timelines for occupant survival. The findings of this research should be considered by fire authorities as they make important decisions for the development of local fire service resourcing activities in continuing times of austerity.

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