Firefighters going into emergency situations require high levels of preparedness not only in terms of the caliber of physical skills and equipment but also with regard to how decision making on the fireground func-
tions to produce outcomes with the least risk to everyone’s safety.
Thomas Evans, lecturer in occupational psychology and PhD
student at the School of Psychological, Social, and Behavioral
Sciences, Coventry University, along with Gail Steptoe-Warren,
principal lecturer in psychology and behavioral sciences at the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University, have been
researching the topic of operational preparedness in firefighters.
In particular, they have assessed the operational preparedness of
the West Midland Fire Service (WMFS) in Birmingham, United
Kingdom, to determine the likelihood that issues will arise during
incidents. This research has enabled them to develop a tool that
can be used by other blue light services to assess and improve an
organization’s level of operational preparedness.
Their study, entitled “Assessment and Changing Operational
Preparedness in the Fire Service,” has previously won the Fire
Service GORE Award for Research Excellence. Steptoe-Warren also
presented it during the 2016 British Psychological Society’s Division
of Occupational Psychology Conference. In the presentation, operational preparedness was defined as the state in which “individuals,
crews, and stations are prepared to carry out their assigned tasks and
roles with minimal risk to public and fire personnel safety.”
WHY ASSESS OPERATIONAL PREPAREDNESS?
Fire and rescue personnel are consistently faced with uncertainties, which for some can be the breeding ground for biased or bad
decision making. In her study, Steptoe-Warren points out two
examples in which a lack of operational preparedness led to very
In 2007, a vegetable packing plant in Atherstone-on-Stour, Warwickshire, England, caught fire. It took 24 hours before the local
fire and rescue personnel were able to control the situation. In the
aftermath, four of their personnel were killed. The local council,
which is responsible for the local fire service, was fined a huge sum
tests to assess
BY NICOLA DAVIES
Operational preparedness must continually
be assessed because changes to the training
process and regulation landscape might be
needed. (Photo by Jon Androwski.)
Are You Ready?