Situation awareness and habitual or resting bias in high-pressure fire-incident training command decisions

Sallis, Geoff, Catherwood, Dianne F, Edgar, Graham K ORCID: 0000-0003-4302-7169, Baker, Steven ORCID: 0000-0002-3029-8931 and Brookes, David ORCID: 0000-0003-4404-805X (2022) Situation awareness and habitual or resting bias in high-pressure fire-incident training command decisions. Fire Safety Journal, 128. p. 103539. doi:10.1016/j.firesaf.2022.103539

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The investigation aimed to determine if Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) personnel display characteristic individual patterns of “bias” in decision-making during high-pressure simulated fire incidents. Research using the Quantitative Analysis of Situation Awareness (QASA) method revealed that despite expertise, FRS personnel display “bias” in how information is accepted for decision-making, showing either a conservative bias (accepting limited information) or a liberal bias (accepting a broader span of information), the former associated with miss errors and the latter with false alarms. QASA measures of Actual and Perceived Situation Awareness and Bias were obtained for 19 operational FRS Incident Commanders during two peer-assessments (one year apart) requiring management of complex simulated fireground incidents. Poor peer ratings meant potential loss of salary and status, generating high pressure on the participants. There was a high level of Actual and Perceived SA, but no significant correlation between these for either exercise (p >.05). Individuals displayed either conservative or liberal bias, with bias tending to be consistent across the exercises: r = 0.335, p = .046. The finding of characteristic or “resting” bias patterns under pressure and the disjunction between actual and perceived SA may help to explain why highly-trained FRS staff can make decision errors – although there are likely to be other factors in play also.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Human factors; Situation awareness; Situational awareness; Firefighting; Signal detection theory; QASA; QUASA
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Graham Edgar
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2022 12:28
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2023 15:16

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