In 2008 the economic cost of fire across the UK was estimated at £8.3 billion – a figure compounded by the immeasurable suffering caused by such events. Researchers in LJMU’s Department of Computer Science have developed computational statistical models that allow for better targeting of fire prevention resources that support a reduction in the incidents of fire.
A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MF&RS) saw the development of a novel causal factor model of accidental dwelling fire risk which was then incorporated into a geographical information system for fire prevention management.
The resulting computational tool has been used by MF&RS to support the delivery of fire prevention activities in the region since the end of the KTP. It allows MF&RS to more effectively identify groups of individuals at increased risk of accidental dwelling fire and therefore better tailor and target fire prevention activities and resources. Consequently, in the period the tool has been utilised, there was a reduction in accidental dwelling fires of approximately 12% (163 incidents) across Merseyside.
While the degree of human suffering prevented by this reduction is clearly huge but hard to demonstrate, the financial saving is calculable. Response to fire is estimated at £3,100 per incident therefore the reduction in the number of incidents amounted to an estimated saving of over £500,000 over the period 2009/10 to 2012/13.
LJMU research was extended to other aspects of assessing risk to the community through a project funded by the UK Department of Communities and Local Government and MF&RS (with Wirral Council, Wirral NHS PCT and Merseyside Police as project partners).
This methodology combined fire, health, social care and crime risks to enable the clearer identification of vulnerable individuals and the more effective targeting of preventative interventions by project partner agencies. This approach has been disseminated as a model of good practice by the UK Department of Communities and Local Government.
The computational analysis of risk – whether from factors relating to fire, health, social care or crime – continues to provide significant economic value and reduce human suffering in the region and has the potential to be adopted across the UK and beyond.
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