Managing complex fires in urban environments: A tale of two cultures

Justin Okoli, John Watt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review


Prior research has examined how experienced fireground commanders make task related decisions under a range of unfavourable conditions, however gaps still exist in the literature when there is need to evaluate the coping strategies of incident commanders across different urban environments. There was rarely any study found to have explored cross-cultural differences that exist between two or more fire services with distinct cultural orientations. This paper reports findings from a study that compared firefighting approaches used by the UK and Nigerian firefighters. Thirty experienced officers were interviewed (UK=15, Nigeria =15) using the critical decision method, and retrospective incident reports were collected and analysed. As expected, results revealed that the UK fire service are significantly better equipped with advanced equipment compared to their Nigerian counterparts who often make improvisations using relatively unsafe methods. However, evidence was found to suggest that the Nigerian officers are culturally biased towards the use of certain firefighting equipment. The implications of these cultural differences for practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICUR 2016 Proceedings
Subtitle of host publicationAtas ICUR2016
PublisherEuropean Centre on Urban Risks
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-989-95094-1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016
EventInternational Conference on Urban Risks - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 30 Jun 20162 Jul 2016


ConferenceInternational Conference on Urban Risks
Abbreviated titleICURT 2016
Internet address


  • Firefighting
  • culture
  • decision making
  • training
  • critical decision making


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