What we do before we do it

Thursday, 27 Jan 2022

 
For inexperienced people, firefighting is an inherently dangerous activity. Nonetheless, the majority of Queensland’s fires are fought by volunteers. Based on my observations as an active volunteer firefighter and fire warden, recognisable behavioural patterns emerge during the first few minutes after arrival at the fire ground.  It is important to understand these patterns because of their influence on the decision-making required in effective first response. 
 
Not long after joining my local brigade, I started to think about how we make decisions when arriving at an active fire. I asked experienced officers how they made their initial decision in an environment that is dynamic and stressful. One commonality appeared in the myriad of answers I received - the importance of an initial decision-making cue upon arrival at the fire ground. The initial cue is of particular interest as it is the point where firefighters enter a decision-making process whereby an evaluation of the scene is required in order to fight, suppress, observe, evacuate, or extinguish the fire.
 
My desire to understand this cue led to the submission of a research proposal to Griffith University, where I work within the Safety Science and Innovation Laboratory. Any active first officers that have served within Queensland’s rural fire brigades for a minimum of ten years that are interested in sharing their decision-making experience, can contact me via christina.close@griffithuni.edu.au or 0448 681 205. Interviews will take place between January and April 2022. Ethics Approval Number: 2021/912
 
Christina Close

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