Project: How health and safety affects fire service operational tasks

Completed but not published

This project was submitted on 03/07/2014

This research looked at the safety of firefighters and tried to see behind the headlines of relentless negative health and safety stories, particularly with regard to the Fire Service. Additionally, examining how this legislation affects fire service operations and what perceptions firefighters and the public have on this subject.
There has been wide spread criticism of health and safety legislation from the media and the present government. There has also been specific criticism made against Fire and Rescue Services, implying that firefighters are unnecessarily constrained by health and safety rules when dealing with serious incidents. This despite the Löfstedt report in which emergency services were “largely supportive” of these rules.
The research methodology used both qualitative and quantitative data, involving a triangulation approach by:
• Questionnaires sent to firefighters & officers. Also to those who have needed Fire Service assistance.
• Reviewing extensive documentation.
• Observation at emergency incidents.

153 questionnaires were returned from 200 that were sent by post and accessed online at 28 were returned from the public and businesses. The main findings of this research are that health and safety legislation has no significant negative
impact on Fire Service operations. Businesses and the public are all very satisfied with the service they have received, reporting no delays. The most significant finding is that 50% of firefighters, including officers, don’t believe they have enough training to deal with the many different types of incident they may face. Further research should be undertaken to examine in which areas firefighters feel undertrained and appropriate action taken. Which could be more training, demanding more resources or more specialization of firefighter roles.
Lessons learned from firefighter deaths should not be forgotten such as those where the lack of risk assessments, training and equipment were strongly criticised.

Occupational health & wellbeing, Policies, Regulation (OSH), Risk management

Organisation: University of Strathclyde

16 Richmond Street,
Glasgow ,
G1 1XQ,
+44 (0)141 552 4400

Principal Investigator: Simon Fleming

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Institution of Occupational Safety and Health
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