The author of this thesis (Richard Walker) is employed by WMFS as a Fire Engineer within the Fire Safety Team. Richard has a technical background in his current position, based on the knowledge he gained as a serving firefighter for 8 years and his further academic and vocational learning as a fire safety professional. In his previous employment within the chemical industry, Richard gained an understanding of polymer chemistry both academically and through practical application.

Richard discussed his interest in developing his understanding of the human toxicological effects during domestic fire situations with the Integrated Risk Management Program (IRMP) manager at WMFS. Following this conversation Richard proposed a program of work to  further organisational knowledge and develop an evidence based approach to future decision making. He chose to complete this project within the framework of a PhD research programme and received joint support from the Chief Fire Officer and the IRMP manager to do so.

The main aim of this research is to establish the effectiveness of attending fire crews to undertake their duties to help the occupants of a building during a dwelling fire. This will be achieved through the comparison of two timelines. The first timeline will consider human exposure to the effects of heat and smoke in domestic fires and create survival times in these situations. The second timeline will look to establish the time it takes for a fire crew to be mobilised to this type of incident and to have a positive impact on trapped occupants.

The knowledge gained from this research will provide evidence in support of future fire authority decision making in times of austerity, where the grant provided to WMFS from central government is being reduced (currently in the order of 25-30%). This project will
focus on the intervention activities carried out by WMFS and will also consider what can be done to prevent fires from starting and to protect people when they do start.

This thesis will identify and review previous publications in this field and will seek to build on these from the perspective of attending firefighting crews. It will also summarise the academically accepted methodologies which will be used to gather and process any
evidence gained. A series of experiments will be conducted, with aspects of these experiments being informed by an in-depth statistical analysis which considers data taken from within WMFS and also from data gathered by Department of Communities and Local
Government (DCLG) from all national Fire and Rescue Services (F&RSs).

The data gathered during the experimental phase will be used to develop timelines for human survivability in typical domestic fires. This data will then be compared with timelines for F&RS interventions to these fires. This comparison will provide information as to how effective an operational firefighting crew are at rescuing trapped persons and preventing them from becoming fatally exposed to heat and/or asphyxiant gases.

This study supports the findings of other experimental attempts to establish fire survival timelines in domestic fire situations. It also furthers the understanding in this field by developing fire scenarios which are informed by national statistical analyses and through
the comparisons between survival and rescue timelines to assess F&RS effectiveness.

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