Improving fire prevention through big data
- New research sees South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service implement new home safety checks
- A big data analysis mapped how fire safety education spreads among communities
- The ‘premonition’ model helps fire services plan for the future and optimise fire prevention strategies
New research, led by Dr Dermot Breslin from the University of Sheffield’s Management School, claims that domestic fires can be reduced through targeted home visits. The research is already being put into practice by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has been working with researchers on the multiyear ‘premonition’ project. The project aims to develop new ways of keeping vulnerable communities safe from fire at a time when fire services are under increasing financial pressure.
Along with co-authors Dr Stephen Dobson, University of Leeds, and Nicola Smith, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Dr Dermot Breslin explains that they developed a simulation model to analyse historical fire data and compare this with community interventions such as home safety checks in the Sheffield area.
"The premonition project demonstrates the power of using big data to better understand changing household risk behaviour.”
He added: “These tools enable services to predict future patterns of change, and optimise fire prevention strategies with a view to protecting the most vulnerable in our community.”
The analysis showed how interventions by fire services and the influence of community networks change individual behaviour and fire risk. The best long-term results were observed when the fire services carried out targeted visits to high-risk, connected households and repeated these home safety visits over a period of time. This combination saw a sustained reduction in risky behaviours (e.g. the use of chip pans) through better education and social influence from peers. Following this, targeted policy could further reduce fire risk factors within the wider community.
The simulation results are now being validated in the real world through pilot studies. However, the research is already having an impact on how fire services operate. South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has already responded to the research by implementing targeted home visit checks to connected households.
Nicola Smith, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service commented:
“The project has furthered our understanding of fire risk and behaviour, and provides us with the insight and tools to inform how we target our services at those most at risk of fire in the home.”
The research has been published in the International Journal of Emergency Services. The full paper is available here.
The University of Sheffield
With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.
Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.
Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.
For further information please contact:
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852