March 1, 2020

Mitigating cognitive biases in fire engineering, Fire and Materials

Dr Steve Gwynne, alongside co-authors, recently published a paper about Mitigating cognitive biases in fire engineering, Fire and Materials


Fire engineering has developed from a niche subject into a mainstream engineering discipline employed within the building design process. Building fire codes are increasingly complex, commonly comprising thousands of requirements regarding a wide range of topics that must be considered. In general, fire engineers are required to possess increasingly complex knowledge about a variety of subjects, along with expertise in their application in the building design process. This has been magnified with the proliferation of performance-based methods using various computational tools. This coupled with increased project performance pressures, raises the potential for errors in judgement. Errors in judgement may be caused by limitations in a given resource (e.g. time, information available, knowledge, etc) or neglect/over-focus on certain information (at the expense of other and more relevant information) through cognitive biases. This paper initially provides a broad overview of general decision-making including dual process theory, heuristics, and cognitive biases. Specific examples of cognitive biases are presented which may potentially be linked to errors in a fire engineer’s decision-making. This contribution considers several fire engineering decision contexts where cognitive biases may exist which are associated with prescriptive fire code adoption/interpretation, modelling/calculations, general fire engineering practice, and perceptions based on experience. Proposed potential measures to mitigate some of these biases and prompt better decision-making are discussed using methods of promoting awareness/conscious decision-making, incentives, nudges, and procedures, based on research from related areas. It is suggested that the proposed mitigation measures may potentially help to reduce the likelihood of errors in judgement caused by cognitive biases and resources needed to rectify their consequences.

READ THE FULL APPER ON RESEARCH GATE: Burning Biases: Mitigating Cognitive Biases In Fire Engineering


Kinsey, Michael | Kinateder, Max | Gwynne, Steven | Hopkin, Danny. (2020). Burning Biases: Mitigating Cognitive Biases In Fire Engineering. Fire and Materials. 10.1002/fam.2824.

See the original article