What role does social demographics play in understanding residential fire hazards? These expert reports look in detail at various factors in the home and community which contribute to significant residential fire hazards. The factors include family life, socioeconomics, geography and crime, the study of which are part of ongoing research to develop greater fire prevention measures.
An investigation into the circumstances surrounding fatal dwelling fires involving very young children
Examination of real-fire data has indicated that, compared to both their share in the general population and older children, very young children are at an increased risk of becoming a dwelling fire fatality; however, detailed research focused specifically on very young fire fatalities is almost non-existent. This paper presents an analysis of the circumstances surrounding fatal dwelling fires involving children aged 5 years and under which has been gleaned from coronial reports. Although fatalities among children aged 5 years and under were relatively rare, i.e. 14 during the 11 year period studied, the circumstances surrounding these deaths were similar and recurrent and it is important to understand these fully so that fire prevention efforts can be focused appropriately.
This paper presents a unique insight into those circumstances and includes not only quantitative data but also detailed qualitative information gathered from the abundance of rich data within the coronial reports that, more often than not, goes unreported. The paper considers fire incident trends and the fatality’s demographics, locations and behaviours, with additional focus on the home environment and warning signs such as persistent fire interest. The analysis indicates that the most common cause of fires for this age group was child fire-play (using smokers’ materials), with inadequate supervision and relaxed attitudes to fire safety in the home both playing a contributory role. This paper considers these trends and discusses the implications for focusing fire prevention efforts for this age group. The findings suggest that such efforts may be best focused on parents/carers who were smokers and improving attitudes to fire safety in the home. Read the full article here.
Using the vulnerable localities index to identify priority areas for targeting fire safety services
The Vulnerable Localities Index (VLI) is a popular analytical method used by police agencies in England and Wales to identify residential neighbourhoods that should be prioritised for attention. The VLI uses data on crime, deprivation and socio-demography to form a single composite index value for small geographic areas, which when mapped can assist in determining where to target neighbourhood policing and crime prevention initiatives. Its use has also helped to prompt other public sector partners such as local municipal government agencies to recognise the collaborative role that they could play with the police in helping to address mutual issues of public safety.
Fire safety agencies have also expressed interest in the VLI, but to date this has mainly involved offering a supporting role to the police and local community safety partnerships on crime specific matters of public safety, with a focus on fire safety often on the periphery. In part this is due to limited analysis into whether the priority areas identified by the VLI are also areas of key concern to fire services. This research explores this relationship, identifying that the priority neighbourhoods of interest to the police are also areas where there are significantly higher than expected levels of deliberate fires and malicious false alarm calls to the fire service. These findings suggest that in the spirit of partnership working, potential opportunities exist in achieving mutually beneficial gains in improving public safety through the collaboration of fire, police and other local public service delivery. Read the full article here.
Social and economic characteristics as determinants of residential fire risk in urban neighborhoods: A review of the literature
The article reviews the literature on social, economic, and building stock characteristics as they relate to residential fire risk in urban neighborhoods. The article updates a previous review of the literature, and provides an overview of recent activity and emergent research directions. A multidisciplinary review of the literature includes sociology, geography, urban planning, and interdisciplinary studies.
Whereas multiple regression modeling was the most prevalent technique, the adoption of geographic information systems and advancement of theories on fire risk have deepened and expanded the techniques used, particularly in the area of geography and spatial statistics. Despite recent progress, the state of research continues to be underfunded and isolated within disciplines, frustrating broader application of findings to actual preventive activity by governments. The article also offers suggestions for further research. Read the full article here.
Extracts taken from articles published in the Fire Safety Journal.