The problem at the heart of this research is the lack of objective information about what actually causes the property fires commonly seen on the television and experienced vicariously. Most people are unlikely to suffer a fire and are unable to imagine the consequences of a fire in their home, in their village hall or at their place of work. This means that an average manager in a company or organisation is ill-equipped to formulate and manage a fire safety plan tailored to that company or organisation. Those that do are hampered because there are no obvious ways of measuring the standard of management needed to manage the plan successfully. Most people are left to their own devices to decide how an ignition occurs, how quickly a fire can consume a property, what contingencies should have been considered and so on. This study investigates the relationship between fire damage and fire safety management and hypothesises that most fire damage is the result of inadequate or unsuccessful fire safety management.
A triangulation approach has been taken to the methodology utilised in this research using two qualitative methods and one quantitative method. It offers three sets of results:
The first set is an authoritative categorisation of the components of fire safety management consisting of a brief and concise description of each component rated in order of importance. The categorisation fills a gap for a comprehensive definition and aspires to become the accepted definition validated by objective evidence.
The second set of results are the opinions and priorities of those with most influence on the practice and enforcement of fire safety on a university campus. Diverse opinions and viewpoints between the practice and enforcement of fire safety are highlighted and indicate a need for a greater understanding of each other's roles.
The third set is the analysis of two sets of fire incident data comparing fire damage occurring on a university campus against the fire damage occurring throughout the area administered by one fire and rescue service. Frequencies of fire damage occurring at different times of day, month and year are emphasised and compared. The cost of fire damage on a university campus is postulated. The model of analysis is one that could be developed into a predictive management planning tool.
This research signals that the management of fire safety is important and its importance lies in reducing the amount of damage and impact which is the consequence of fire. It contributes to that aim and opens the way to further research that could turn the subjective subject of fire safety management into an objective science.
A Master's Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy of Loughborough University.