Date of release: Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Flames inside house

Fire safety experts at the University of Greenwich and Kent Fire and Rescue Service are seeking volunteers to help them understand more about how people perceive accidental fires in homes.

Members of the public are invited to take part in an online survey, which will involve watching a series of short videos and answering some simple questions. The survey will take only a few minutes to complete, and the answers will help researchers and other safety professionals to learn more about human behaviour, perceptions and attitudes during the outbreak of a fire.

Anyone can participate in the survey and the experts want as many people as possible of different ages (from a minimum of 18 years old), occupations and nationalities to complete the survey.

Professor Ed Galea, Director of the university's Fire Safety Engineering Group, is a world expert on fire and evacuation, and the way that people behave in life-threatening emergencies. He says: "Understanding how people react is vital if we are to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries that occur each year in fire-related situations around the world. We can only understand this complex behaviour if the public assist us with our research – collectively the public hold the key to unlocking why people behave as they do in crisis situations."

The survey can be found at http://fseg.gre.ac.uk/surveys/ and is the first survey on the web page – Observation Survey.

Related to this is another online survey, aimed at those who have actually experienced a fire in their home over the past 12 months, which could also help save lives. This survey can be completed anonymously and respondents simply need to describe their experiences. It is not necessary for the fire to have been major, or for the emergency services to have been called out, to take part in the survey.

This survey can also be found at http://fseg.gre.ac.uk/surveys/ and is the second survey on the web page – Domestic Fire Survey.

David Wales of Kent Fire and Rescue Service says: "If you have had a fire at home recently you can help us by filling out this survey. It will give us a better understanding of how people behave when they have a fire and help us develop ways of protecting others in the future."

Both surveys are part of the LIFEBID research project which forms part of a national survey and database, identifying human behaviour during fires in domestic dwellings.

Story by Public Relations