Dynamic fire disaster risk management in the Norwegian Fire Brigades?
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Extraordinary fires, such as the fires in Lærdal, Flatanger and Frøya January 2014, Sokndal April 2019 and Sotra June 2021, require extraordinary measures. To understand in advance that the fire risk is high may help regarding improved preparedness mentally as well as regarding manning, equipment, and recognizing and sharing need for possible support with neighbor fire brigades. Such improved preparedness will likely lead to reduced losses should an extraordinary fire start developing. The thesis has inquired existing risk-based approaches in the Norwegian fire brigades and possibilities for improved dynamic risk-based emergency management. The semi-structured interview method was used as an instrument for collecting data. The sample consisted of deliberately selected seven fire brigades in Norway, one interview for each fire brigade. Wildland urban interface (WUI) fire disaster prevention and preparedness, such as risk understanding, were analysed. Together with a review of previous WUI fire incidents, legislation in Norway and theory, including fire dynamics, general fire spread, WUI, dynamic risk-based approach and warning systems, this gives a better understanding of dynamic fire disaster risk management in the Norwegian fire brigades. There is a strong relationship between fire brigade response time and the outcome of fires . The interviews provided understanding of the fire brigades’ risk-based emergency management in relation to dynamic risk development. Also, how they may prepare differently in advance of periods of expected increased risk. The thesis will provide suggestions for the fire brigades’ risk manning in the future. According to Norwegian regulations, each fire brigade in Norway must have a risk and vulnerability analysis and contingency analysis  that describes, among other things, risk, dimensioning, and how to set up good emergency preparedness. All the interviewed fire brigades had risk- and vulnerability analyses, as well as a contingency analyses, within their municipalities. To be able to improve dynamic risk-based emergency management in the fire brigades, the fire brigades must describe and reveal the different risk in their analyses. There are large variations in how often these are updated. The understanding of how often different risks must be implemented in the analyses also varies. The results show that the smaller fire brigades do not have the capacity or resources to update the analyses as often as they would wish. An important result that was pointed out by one of the larger fire brigades was that if they are to implement relevant measures to improve their dynamic risk management, they must think risk-based based on factors such as air temperature and humidity, as this has an enormous effect on the spread potential of a fire. Another important finding was that knowledge sharing between fire brigades are very limited. Typically, in the aftermath of a major fire the municipality supported their fire brigade with better equipment, water access, etc. while neighboring municipalities with similar risks just "sit on the fence". WUI fires are an increasing risk to society; this is a result of settlement and infrastructure development in the vicinity of abandoned (previously managed) landscapes. Accumulated vegetation biomass in combination with dry and warm climates often results in much accumulated dead biomass with very low fuel moisture content . The high disaster frequency experienced in recent years and the climate changes expected during the next decades represent alarming signals for the future . There is therefore an urgent need for innovative and interdisciplinary research to understand the complexity and to proactively manage the increasing fire disaster risk. Dynamic risk-based emergency management should therefore not be implemented at the expense of preventive WUI fire efforts, such as landscape management.
Western norway university of applied sciences, Master Thesis in Fire Safety Engineering