A naturalistic decision-making approach to managing non-routine fire incidents: evidence from expert firefighters

Journal article


Okoli, J., Watt, J and Weller, G 2022. A naturalistic decision-making approach to managing non-routine fire incidents: evidence from expert firefighters. Risk Research . 25 (2), p. 198–217. https://doi.org/10.1080/13669877.2021.1936609
AuthorsOkoli, J., Watt, J and Weller, G
Abstract

The current paper builds on the naturalistic decision-making paradigm to advance the meaning and application of expert intuition in real-life settings. While conventional models of expert intuition often link intuitive competence to pattern recognition skills, the current paper advances prior knowledge by demonstrating that intuitive expertise is
inextricably linked to actors’ ability to discriminate between subtle informational cues through the process of information filtering. Drawing on data from a phenomenological study involving thirty (30) fireground
commanders (UK ¼ 15, Nigeria ¼ 15), the study utilised the critical decision method (CDM) to explore the cognitive strategies utilised by these expert fire-fighters. The method entailed that each expert participant shared a retrospective non-routine fire incident that particularly challenged their expertise, allowing the resulting qualitative data to be
coded and analysed using a combination of emergent themes analysis (ETA) and interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Specifically, the paper develops and discusses: (i) a theoretical model of intuition that emerged directly from the expert incident accounts (ii) an inventory of forty-two critical cues that aided expert decision-making on the fireground, alongside a cue classification framework. Competence on the fireground was found to be a function of experts’ cue discriminatory and information filtering abilities that subsequently allowed information from
multiple sources to be processed and utilised efficiently. Although the firefighting domain formed the central focus of this study, findings are deemed generalisable across other high-risk organisations.

KeywordsIntuitive expertise; firefighters; naturalistic decision-making; critical decision method; informational cues
Year2022
JournalRisk Research
Journal citation25 (2), p. 198–217
PublisherRoutledge - Taylor and Francis
ISSN 1466-4461
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/13669877.2021.1936609
Web address (URL)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13669877.2021.1936609
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online07 Jun 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted19 May 2022
Deposited04 Nov 2022
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