Measuring the Capabilities of the Swedish Fire Service to Save Lives in Residential Fires

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The ability of the fire service to save lives in building fires has a profound impact on planning. However, very little empirical data are available on how different factors affect this capability—or even how many that are rescued annually. The current paper aims to partly fill this gap with an assessment of all rescues performed by the fire departments in Sweden during 2017. A combination of incident reports and a large number of post-event interviews yielded a total of 51 rescues (to be compared to 88 fatalities) during that year, which show that the fire service has a great potential to reduce the number of fire fatalities. In these cases, the call to the dispatcher most frequently came from a neighbor (55%) or the victim (26%). The rescue was in 71% of the cases performed with interior attack with a breathing apparatus. The cases were also compared with fatal fires revealing that the odds of successful rescue increased, for example, if the fire occurred in an apartment building or if the response time was short. The joint data set of rescues and fatal fires was used to develop a methodology to calculate the probability of successful rescue depending on the capability of the fire service. This methodology provides the first fully empirical method for organizing the fire service in relation to saving lives in fires. A similar approach should be pursued for other accident types and consolidated for an evidence based assessment of the capability of the fire service.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Civil Engineering

Keywords

  • Capability, Fatal fire, Fire service, Rescue, Residential fire
Original languageEnglish
JournalFire Technology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Jul 24
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes