A major new report has been published that considers the role of a fire extinguisher in human terms, identifying the gap between policy assumptions and the evidence from real fires. It examines the implications arising from this and makes a number of recommendations to create an evidence base and enhance current fire-safety policies/advice.
This report was produced with the aim of providing an evidence-based assessment of the role of portable fire extinguishers within dwellings. This includes both single private dwellings and houses in multiple occupation (HMO), or other places where some form of accommodation is provided.
The report is intended to inform discussions and present a currently underrepresented perspective: that of the public. It explores both what is known about their behaviour/motivations when encountering a dwelling fire and considers how they are represented in official policies.
It finds that the contribution of the extinguisher and the public in using them attracts little attention and is poorly recorded within academia, government or the wider fire-safety sector. And yet it is this perspective which ultimately identifies their true contribution and value.
The evidence shows the public to be motivated, capable and effective in tackling fires, even in the absence of any professional support, and often without specialist equipment.
Extinguishers were found to be an important intervention in tackling fires at the early stage. There was little difference between those who have and have not received training in their use.
Consideration of extinguishers, and other fire-safety issues, are not helped by the tendency for risk to be poorly understood, applied and often based on rare, worst-case scenarios.
Overall, this report finds that the use of fire extinguishers suffers from several systemic issues which adversely distort their true role and influence. Some of the key ones are:
- Too many false assumptions and evidence gaps in influential policy areas.
- A disconnect between the fire-safety profession (in both public and private sectors) and the public it serves. The latter being poorly represented (directly or indirectly) in policy and guidance creation.
- The dominance of the engineering discipline to the detriment of a broader multi-disciplinary and user-centred model.
- A paternalistic approach by which government and the fire-safety sector seek to change, rather than work with the public. This is despite the evidence that public behaviours are safe, effective and largely unaltered by current guidance and campaigns.
To read the full report click here
For more information, contact David Wales at email@example.com