Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Kent Fire & Rescue Service

University of Greenwich


LIFEBID (Lessons In Fire & Evacuation Behaviour In Dwellings)

Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between: University of Greenwich (UoG) and Kent Fire & Rescue Service (KFRS)

Funded by: Innovate UK (Technology Strategy Board, TSB) and the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

KTP start and end dates: 1st May 2013 to 30th April 2016

Project LIFEBID: forms part of the KTP and is a collaborative research effort involving UoG, UK fire and rescue services (FRSs) and other relevant stakeholders

KTP and project overview Both the KTP and Project LIFEBID are aimed at understanding human behaviour in accidental dwelling fires (ADFs) and using this knowledge to reduce the unacceptably high losses associated with these fires. Despite accounting for less than 20% of all fires by type, ADFs have consistently been the cause of approximately 60-70% of all fire-related deaths and injuries in the UK (total UK ADF deaths and casualties in 2012-2013 were 217 and 7,354 respectively). Research on human behaviour in fire has focused primarily on fires in large public buildings, e.g. stations, malls, high-rise offices. How people behave when faced with a fire in their own domestic space is not well known. As such, most mitigation strategies for ADFs are based on anecdotes/assumptions and focus primarily on early detection via smoke alarms. Even with the high uptake of domestic alarms, ADF losses are unacceptably high. To significantly reduce these losses it is essential that a thorough understanding of behaviour in ADFs is developed.

The KTP, jointly funded by the Innovate UK (TSB) and EPSRC, is formed between the Fire Safety Engineering Group (FSEG) of the University of Greenwich and KFRS. The aim is to develop a knowledge-base and research capability that will be built and embedded within KFRS, initially directed at reducing fire-related deaths and injuries. This will be achieved primarily through the collection of survey data from people who have experienced fires in their homes. A database of these experiences will then be developed with a particular focus on the human behavioural aspects of such fire incidents.

However, ADFs impact residents across all parts of the UK, and beyond. Therefore, it was recognised that a more detailed database, one that would allow fire safety professionals to draw more wider-reaching conclusions, could be generated by also involving the contribution of other FRSs and relevant stakeholders (e.g. in the medical sector, government, and so on). Thus, Project LIFEBID was formed and comes with the backing of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA).

The collected data will be analysed to determine: how people react to dwelling fires; what steps they take to protect their property, themselves and/or others during dwelling fires; also, how people may become injured during dwelling fires, as well as how people avoid becoming injured. The intention is that the LIFEBID database will continue to be populated with data beyond the lifetime of the KTP to allow organisations to look, over time, at trends in human behaviour in ADFs and the effect of any interventions. This information will provide valuable lessons to KFRS and other professionals involved in fire safety, helping them shape strategies, research and services to the public. The project findings will be made available to the wider international fire safety community to ensure that as many people as possible can be assisted and protected.

Over the three-year project, the key challenges for FSEG are:
  • Identify actions undertaken by people during ADFs.
  • Identify people’s perceptions of fire hazards (flames, smoke) during ADFs and the risk they present.
  • Identify the timing of injuries during ADFs.
  • Develop an understanding of those factors which have the greatest potential to impact survival, injury and death rates.
  • Identify factors that influence human behaviour in ADFs.
  • Understand how socio-demographics may impact these factors.
  • Use this knowledge to develop intervention strategies to mitigate the financial and societal costs of ADFs and to inform public service provision/policy.

Planned survey timeline
  • Regional pilot study data collection during Summer 2014 - COMPLETED
  • South East survey data collection during Autumn/Winter 2014-2015 - COMPLETED
  • UK pilot study data collection during Winter 2014-2015 - COMPLETED
  • UK-wide survey data collection starting Spring/Summer 2015 - COMPLETED

Take part in the survey The survey will first be rolled out in the South East of England and then across other parts of the UK.

If you have experienced a domestic fire - small or large, whether the fire & rescue service was called or not – and would like to assist us in our research please click on the appropriate link below.

South East Domestic Fire Survey:
This survey is continuing to run in 2015. If you have experienced a domestic fire and live in the South East, please click here. (NB. January 2018 update: This round of data collection has now ended. Thank you for your interest.)

UK Domestic Fire Survey:
This survey is currently being pilot tested in select regions of the UK; the survey will be launched across the UK in full in April 2015. If you have experienced a domestic fire and live anywhere in the UK, please register here. (NB. January 2018 update: This round of data collection has now ended. Thank you for your interest.)

Non-UK Domestic Fire Survey:
People outside of the UK may also take part in this research. If you have experienced a domestic fire and live outside the UK, please click here. Before doing so, however, please read this information sheet. (NB. January 2018 update: This round of data collection has now ended. Thank you for your interest.)

Link to project website

Project Partners

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
Innovate UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) University of Greenwich Kent Fire & Rescue Service
Chief Fire Officers Association
South East Fire Improvement Partnership Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire & Rescue Service Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service
Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service Essex County Fire & Rescue Service Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
Humberside Fire & Rescue Service Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service
Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service Surrey Fire & Rescue Service
West Midlands Fire Service West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service West Yorkshire FRS


Publications Section Papers related to project LIFEBID can be found on the FSEG publications page
Relevant paper numbers: 297

Further Information Prof. Ed Galea
Fire Safety Engineering Group
University of Greenwich
Greenwich Maritime Campus
Old Royal Naval College
Queen Mary Building
Greenwich SE10 9LS

Tel: +44 (020) 8331 8730