Anthropogenic accidental dwelling fire : incident distribution, theory and the Fire and Rescue Service
Over the past decade the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) has attended an average of
67,000 residential dwelling fires a year, resulting in an annual average of 14,000
casualties and 450 deaths in the UK (DCLG, 2007).
Anthropogenic Accidental Dwelling Fire (AADF) is not a random phenomenon, and
through the use of spatial and temporal pattern analysis, it can be shown to be
disproportionately concentrated in areas that share common social, economic and
environmental characteristics. Developing robust theory and methodology will
improve the understanding of the nature of the problem and the ability to effectively
target resources to areas of greatest need.
This thesis presents the development of a new theoretical model of Anthropogenic
Accidental Dwelling Fire incidence, bridging the theory gap in the existing research
literature. The theoretical model developed identifies the component factors of
potential domestic activity fire risk and the key role of trigger events, by act or
omission, that combine to significantly increase the risk of fire within a dwelling.
Spatial and temporal analysis of the distribution of over 17,000 individual AADF
incidents, from the Greater Manchester area, was conducted utilising the nationally
comprehensive and consistent ward level Indices of Deprivation 2000 (IMD) and the
Enumeration District (ED) level SuperProfiles geodemographic typology. The
analysis revealed statistically significant variation in the profile of incident
distribution, operationally valuable to the FRS and of major policy importance.
An AADF Routine Activities Time Classification was produced and an analytical
methodology developed to derive temporal profiles for incidents across both area
characteristic classifications and ignition categories. The AADF spatial-temporal
ignition profiles were shown to vary significantly, providing valuable new empirical
evidence in support of the implementation of the theoretical model and the utilisation
of the methodology developed, informing both strategic policy and service delivery
management of a modernising Fire & Rescue Service.
A comprehensive national survey of FRS was undertaken and the results are
critically reviewed, providing a snap shot of the data, systems, analysis and skills of
the FRS, exploring the potential capacity of the organisation to utilise theory based
research with evidence lead targeting and resource allocation.
A practical application of the use of the IMD as a proxy for Fire & Rescue Service
demand is then developed and tested, addressing a perverse incentive within the
Standard Spending Assessment used to fund the FRS. A simple weighted model was
over fitted to the known incident distribution of the case study area of Greater
Manchester. The IMD group weightings derived were then extrapolated to national
population distributions within IMD classes and the SSA recalculated.
Finally the principal findings of the research are presented, the outcomes critically
reviewed, policy implications discussed and recommendations made.