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Changing Behaviour to Save Lives Programme

Following an increase in fire deaths over the last two years, the first project in the Changing Behaviour to Save Lives programme is now underway. The aim of the project is to reduce the number of accidental domestic fire deaths by enabling positive and sustainable behaviour change. To do this, a social marketing approach is being used.

Social marketing is a process which aims to understand peoples’ priorities, how people are influenced and then use that insight to influence change in behaviour. By building a rich picture of people’s lives, it will be possible to determine the best ways to communicate, engage and positively influence their behaviour to keep them safe from fire. The Corporate Communication team is working closely with Community Safety and the Organisational Intelligence Unit to introduce this approach to help protect our communities.

The first project is targeting residents who fall into the profile group of those who have been dying in fires. Although not all the fire deaths during the last two years have been the same, the majority of them have had similarities: over 55 years of age, with an impairment i.e. a disability or long term illness, smoke and live alone. This has given us a broad profile of people who are at risk and are therefore the focus of our work.

Work is now being done to develop a better understanding of these residents and their lives. This includes working with partner organisations and community groups, as well as the residents themselves, to understand what their priorities are and how their behaviour is influenced. For example, this might be through advice given by the Fire and Rescue Service, information from their carer or GP, or because of something they have read or seen on television.

Once this research has been done, the main influencers will have been identified and possible interventions will then be developed to enable the desired behaviour change to keep people safe from fire.

The overarching concern and key measure of impact for the project is on what people actually do as a consequence of the intervention – not simply what they might know or value about something. This does not mean that knowledge and attitudes are not important, but rather that the end is clearly seen in terms of what people do – their behaviour – and in particular, finding ways to maintain and sustain positive behaviours over time. Needless to say, this is not something that will be recognised quickly and the change may take some time to see.

For further information about the programme, please contact our Community Safety Team on (01482) 567439.

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