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Thesis defence on fatal fires on January 23


On Thursday January 23rd at 13.15, Marcus Runefors will defend his PhD-thesis with the title “Fatal Residential Fires – Prevention and Response”.

The act will take place in lecture hall V:D (at John Ericssons väg 1 in Lund) and will start with a 30 minutes presentation followed by a 10 minutes break where it is possible to leave before the discussion. The entire session will be performed in English. After the seminar, snacks and coffee will be served and if you want to participate, please send an e-mail to no later than Monday January 13th.

No notification are needed to only attend the defence act.

The thesis (excluding papers) can be found here.


Fatal fires in residential occupancies show a decreasing trend over time, but are still responsible for taking approximately 90 lives in Sweden each year. Much is known about the victims, but less is known about how these deaths can be prevented. There is research on the effectiveness of different measures, but generally they are population average effectiveness and, since different groups are known to be subject to quite different scenarios, this effectiveness is not necessarily representative of the effectiveness for any specific group. Therefore, group-specific effectiveness is derived in this thesis. The results indicate that smoke alarms are effective for most groups, but additional measures are needed for some groups. This is particularly true for older adults, for whom synthetic clothes and detector-activated sprinklers are highly effective.

Also, responses to potentially fatal fires in residential occupancies are almost missing from the literature and were therefore analysed in the thesis. The conclusion was that fire services saved 51 lives during the studied year (2017), which indicates that the number of fatalities in residential occupancies would have increased by 58% in that year without fire service responses. Response time was found to be important, but also what the crew could perform on arrival at each scene, because many were developed fires that required breathing apparatus to perform the rescue. In another study, responses by other actors were also included for older adults (65+), indicating that, in addition to the fire service, neighbours are very important, but for the oldest individuals home care also played an important role.