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Human Factors in Airfield RFFS. The SHEL model (Hawkins 1975). Purpose Create an environment where fire crews can deal with an incident in as safe and speedy a manner as possible. 4. Collect data & Pareto results. 3. The process is applied –. Human factors SHEL model.

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Human Factors in Airfield RFFS

The SHEL model (Hawkins 1975)


Create an environment where fire crews can deal with an incident in as safe and speedy a manner as possible


Collect data & Pareto results


The process is applied –

Human factors SHEL model

What are Human Factors?


  • The process is aligned to significant events during phases at an aircraft incident, a Pareto score was given on the basis of relative complexity of task


  • Across all crews

  • Different times of day

  • Different response areas

Human factors are concerned with optimizing the relationship between people and their activities, by the systematic application of human science. In fire crews this involves concentrating on specific occasions within an incident where stress levels may rise and judgement may be compromised

  • Liveware-Hardware is the study of how people interface with machines, seating in appliances,

    pumping systems, controls, Fire service equipment etc

  • Humans may never be aware of a L-H deficiency even where it leads to a disaster because of thehumans natural ability to adapt and mask problems


  • S = Software, symbols etc

  • H = Hardware, appliances, etc.

  • E = Environment

  • L = Liveware, humans

  • = Management of the station

Level of stress noted

Respond to incident




During rescue

Receive message

Mount appliance

Post incident



Confirmation of human factors issues found during analysis





Limited information intake

Fundamental Objectives:

  • To examine the station environment to seeif it could be optimized to assist the initialresponse turnout sequence

  • To look at pinch points within an incident to seeif these could be minimised by adopting humanfactors principles

  • To re-visit all of the training packages employedby the fire crews to better reflect actual incidentconditions

  • To raise the level of awareness in humanfactors so the fire crews can better understandthe reasons for occasional poor decision making and better understand how this can beminimised by application of human factorsprinciples.

  • Research shows under incident conditions individuals can demonstrate a reduced capacity for taking in information

  • Fire fighters focus on a task or problem and lose the overall picture

  • In many cases when we most need a comprehensive grasp of the situation our ability to take in the required data eludes us




Premature hypothesis formation

  • Liveware-Software encompasses humans and the none physical aspects of the systemsuch as procedures, layouts, symbology, problems can include misinterpretation andnone-compliance with procedures


  • Another feature of stress during an incident is the tendency toform premature solutions to problems

  • Our decision making is likely to be flawed and our proposedsolution inadequate

  • During incidents officers need to step back and check how plansare functioning, under stress this ability is often difficult


  • Liveware-Environmental issues involve high work levels, shift work, sleep deprivation, economicalrestraints

  • Although a lot of these factors are outside the personal control boundaries they should be correctly addressed by those in management with the power to do so



Liveware-Liveware is the interface between people, competency has always been individually assessed and it was assumed the team containing individuals would be competent, this is clearly not always the case, many incidents fail as a result of poor team working / interfacing



  • Stress during the incident phase tends to make us fall back on tried and tested solutions, in other words we regress to what has worked in the past

  • Quite often differences between past and present problems make proposed solutions inappropriate

The key stress points of an incident


The initiation of the initial alert sequence

Donning fire kit under pressure

Donning breathing apparatus

Assisting distressed passengers

Entry and ventilation of the aircraft

Injured or trapped passenger rescue

Post incident trauma


  • During the early stages of an incident it is vital to correctly prioritise tasks, resources etc. unfortunately accurate prioritisation is one of the casualties of stress

  • We may prioritise tasks which look most urgent but may not be or we settle on the easier tasks solving the problems we can instead of the ones which are most urgent, this is a classic feature of stressed behaviour

Confirmation of analysis led me to definitive stress points within an incident