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People's Subjective Estimation of Fire Growth: An Experimental Study of Young Adults

Fridolf K. and Nilsson, D., 2011. People's Subjective Estimation of Fire Growth: An Experimental Study of Young Adults. Fire Safety Science 10: 161-172. 10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.10-161


An experiment was carried out to examine the subjective estimation of fire growth for young adults and their perceived ability to extinguish fires. In the experiment participants filled out a questionnaire consisting of two parts. The first part involved prediction of fire growth, and the test participants were asked to estimate the times between different stages of fires. The second part involved estimation of the ability to extinguish different fires, and the participants were asked about their ability to extinguish the fires with a portable foam extinguisher. The results suggest that young adults are not very good at predicting fire growth, or the seriousness of a fire. There is a great variation in the estimations of the time lapsed between different stages of a fire, which means that the heat release rate of the fire often is greatly over- or underestimated. In terms of predicting fire growth, no differences could be found between males and females or people with previous experience of fires. In addition, a great proportion of the test participants believed that a fire was too large to extinguish with a portable foam extinguisher, when it in fact was not.

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