London Fire Brigade

London Fire chief scoops award for firefighting innovation

30 June 2017

A new study into the psychology of how fire officers deal with emergency incidents has been named the People's Choice at Cardiff University's Innovation and Impact Awards.

The pioneering research by  London Fire Brigade Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Dr Sabina Cohen-Hatton, involved fitting firefighters’ helmets with GoPro cameras to gain crucial insights to their actions and decision making when dealing with major incidents.

The findings have led to a new ‘decision control’ process now helps commanders across the country communicate goals, consequences, risks and benefits of actions taken under pressure which is now national policy. 

Sabrina was funded by the National Fire Chiefs Council to develop the study with the university’s School of Psychology’s Professor Rob Honey.

She was presented with the award at the university’s annual Innovation and Impact Awards ceremony after 600 members of the public voted for it.

Sabrina started her research whilst working for the South Wales Fire Service, which she joined at 18.

She worked through the ranks to become Group Commander and also completed a secondment to the Welsh government advising ministers and senior civil servants on fire and rescue policy.

Sabrina moved to London three years ago to take on her current role.

She said: “We are delighted to win this award. I wish to dedicate it to all London firefighters who have been working so hard to help everyone touched by the Grenfell Tower incident.

“The driver for this research was to keep firefighters safe.

“This week has demonstrated to the world just the kind of high-pressure, high-risk situations our firefighters find themselves in.

“I dedicate this award to the firefighters who worked at Grenfell Tower."

Minister for Skills and Science Julie James praised the project as an outstanding example of how a research study can be translated into practical decision-making advice to help save lives in an emergency.

The project had already won the Impact and Innovation in Policy Award at the event, and then beat other pieces of award-winning research to be voted People’s Choice.