Our researchers were commissioned to evaluate the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) Domestic Fire Safety and Home Visit programme over a three-year period.
The over-arching aim of the evaluation was to assess the effectiveness of the ESFRS Domestic Fire Safety and Home Visit programme. Evidence was sought to ascertain whether the interventions were successful and to surface factors affecting outcomes.
Researchers accompanied East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) staff to assess:
the uptake and retention of ‘fire safety advice’
patterns and changes in fire risk behaviour and,
the effectiveness of the new smoke alarms fitted by ESFRS.
In phase one, researchers accompanied ESFRS staff undertaking home safety visits in two sample areas in Brighton. Researchers monitored people’s awareness of fire risks in the home. Fire alarms were checked and 30 per cent of households had non-functioning smoke alarms (about the national average). In phase two, visits targeted people who had experienced domestic fires in the past and those who had received a fire safety visit before. The objective was to further assess householders’ appreciation of fire risks and the impact and retention of fire safety advice over time. Phase three involved return visits to those interviewees from phase one.
The research confirmed existing understandings of fire risks relating to children in the home and older people/people with disabilities living alone but also revealed a marked social class gradient to fire risk prevalence. Call-backs one year after the initial fire safety visits revealed that risk ratios were lower in all the groups, but that some groups (again showing a social class gradient) evidenced a greater capacity to take heed of the fire safety advice provided and make appropriate changes. The recommendations confirmed that empowering people to make changes to their domestic lifestyles was an important complement to giving advice when seeking to reduce domestic fire risks.
The research model upon which the work was based was rolled out by Firebrake Wales, the community fire safety trust.
Professor Peter Squires
Dr Hannah Thurston
Interim report: evaluation of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service home safety visits
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS)