The role of expertise in dynamic risk assessment: a reflection of the problem-solving strategies used by experienced fireground commanders

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Okoli, Justin ; Watt, John ; Weller, Gordon ; Wong, B. L. William (2016)

Although the concept of dynamic risk assessment has in recent times become more topical in the training manuals of most high risk domains, only a few empirical studies have reported how experts actually carry out this crucial task. The knowledge gap between research and practice in this area therefore calls for more empirical investigation within the naturalistic environment. In this paper, we present and discuss the problem solving strategies employed by sixteen experienced operational firefighters using a qualitative knowledge elicitation tool — the critical decision method. Findings revealed that dynamic risk assessment is not merely a process of weighing the risks of a proposed course of action against its benefits, but rather an experiential and pattern recognition process. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of designing training curriculum for the less experienced officers using the elicited expert knowledge.
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