Interactions Between Human Behaviour and Technology: Implications for Fire Safety Science

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Bruck, Dorothy and Thomas, Ian (2010) Interactions Between Human Behaviour and Technology: Implications for Fire Safety Science. Fire Technology, 46 (4). pp. 769-787. ISSN 1572-8099


Here we present a number of studies showing how human behaviour may influence the effectiveness of fire safety equipment. The paper initially focuses on smoke alarms and first reviews studies on the waking effectiveness of smoke alarms, including the increased waking effectiveness of a low frequency 520 Hz square wave. Section 2.2 presents research on the impact of changes in the open or shut status of doors and windows on alarm performance. When all doors were closed, the average alarm volume in other rooms fell to a mere 36 dBA. Time for alarm activation by smoke was very strongly influenced by shutting interconnecting doors. The analysis in Sect. 2.3, using detailed coroner’s files, suggests that for many fire fatalities a smoke alarm is likely to have been irrelevant to whether or not a person died in the fire. Part 3 presents research examining the use of fire extinguishers and fire blankets by older adults. Blanket use was more successful than the fire extinguisher, with 22% of participants unable to remove the fire extinguisher safety tag. We conclude that any new fire safety technologies or developments need to explicitly take into account human factors in their design. Further, consideration must be made about whether a new product is likely to be located, installed, available, maintained and/or appropriately used by the people who are most at risk. The paper closes with a discussion of some preventative strategies.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1007/s10694-010-0161-1
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 0915 Interdisciplinary Engineering
Historical > FOR Classification > 1799 Other Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Historical > SEO Classification > 970109 Expanding Knowledge in Engineering
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Centre for Environmental Safety and Risk Engineering (CESARE)
Keywords ResPubID19830. human behaviour, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire fatalities, fire safety technology, fire fighting
Citations in Scopus 4 - View on Scopus
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