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Learning from fires in Norway : Preconditions, barriers and enabling factors
SINTEF, Norway.
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Safety and Transport, Fire and Safety.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5143-6854
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Safety and Transport, Fire and Safety.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4831-7563
SINTEF, Norway.
2022 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Fires are devastating events that may harm humans, properties and the environment. Authorities, organisations, companies and societies should be able to learn from fire incidents to reduce the probability and impact of future fires. To achieve a reduction in fires and their consequences, an effort is needed from multiple actors and both technical, organisational and individual changes would be necessary. Importantly, we therefore consider change as a prerequisite for learning. So how can we as a society change or modify our efforts for prevention and mitigation of fires? A learning approach often starts with some form of inquiry about the occurred accidents – an investigation. This investigation can take many forms: the fire services’ own evaluations of the response to a fire, an authority’s assessments of the compliance and fit of their regulations, a company’s analysis of internal rules and organisation, and the police’s investigation of criminal issues. Investigations require highly skilled professionals using often multidisciplinary skills such as knowledge in human behaviour, fire dynamics, electrical systems, mechanical processes and many more. A fire investigator may use many different techniques and tactics, to figure out how the fire started, what fault led to the fire, what made the fire develop the way it did and, also what factors and measures that worked well in the fire. The investigator can work for the fire service, the police, insurance companies, hired private fire investigators or in larger companies, to mention a few. However, not all fires are investigated in Norway, and there is also a large number of incidents that is concluded with an unknown fire cause. The aim of our research has been to increase the society’s capacity to learn from fires. We have two main objectives contributing to the aim: 1. Obtain knowledge on the preconditions for learning from fires in Norway. 2. Provide recommendations to increase learning from fires in Norway. Leading to these main objectives, we shed light on investigations, examinations, databases and routines related to the different actors, and importantly, the actors’ beliefs, collaboration and practices related to fire prevention and learning. The main corpus of material in this study is interviews with actors relevant for learning from fires in Norway. The informants were from the fire service, the police, educational system, insurance, authorities and organisations with interest in fire safety. The interviews were related to themes like cooperation inside and outside the organisation, resources and databases, how the interviewees see the fire investigation area today and how it should be improved. The findings were then divided into the Pentagon model’s five categories: • formal structure • technology and infrastructure • culture • interaction • relations and network The findings from the interviews and the reasons behind them are extensive and are elaborated upon in the report, but the main points are summarised here. Generally, we see clearly that learning from fires is a complex issue. It does not only encompass obtaining the correct technical insights from a fire scene, but also informal aspects like the personal relations and how the fire services are organised. Further, we see that fire investigation in Norway lack both the quality and quantity needed to obtain sufficient knowledge on fires that occur. The approaches, mandates and focus vary greatly with each actor, and this affects the coordination, cooperation, and systematic work of learning from investigations. High variation can also be found in the fire services’ own evaluations of their own fire-fighting efforts, which leads to regionally different methodology and terminology. This has an additional negative impact on the cooperative work even between fire departments. The cooperation is also varying when it comes to the sharing of knowledge which is prevalent between all actors involved in fire investigation. Little cooperation is formalised and therefore most cooperation on investigation and learning, as well as the sharing of knowledge and experiences, are done through individual and personal relations. This is also true inside the fire services where personal experiences and social learning is preferred to more systematic evaluation of fires and formal education. This creates a potential conflict with efforts of standardising work and learning processes. Lastly the lack of resources in preventive work in fire and rescue services and the police, especially in the investigation phase, hinders the possibility to learn effectively from fires and to convey the experiences from them. The difference in status between preventive and preparedness efforts in these public services is still relevant today.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
FRIC Fire Research and Innovation Centre , 2022. , p. 54
Series
FRIC Report ; D1.2-2022.03
National Category
Building Technologies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ri:diva-58838ISBN: 978-91-89561-36-6 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ri-58838DiVA, id: diva2:1646866
Available from: 2022-03-24 Created: 2022-03-24 Last updated: 2023-05-09Bibliographically approved

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Aamodt, EdvardSteen-Hansen, Anne

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