Closing the gap: Merging engineering and anthropology in holistic fire safety assessments in the maritime and offshore industries

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  • Mette Marie Vad Karsten
  • Aqqalu Ruge, DBI - The Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology, Denmark
  • Thomas Hulin, DBI - The Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology, France

This article reports on the endeavor to merge the fields of anthropology and fire safety engineering in holistic fire safety assessments within the maritime and offshore industries. The article suggests a combination of the two disciplines to transition from an interdisciplinary approach towards transdisciplinarity. The approach has been developed and adjusted during three cases of risk analyses and prevention strategies on fire safety. The article presents two methodological insights illustrating the necessary attitude of interdisciplinarity as a foundation towards transdisciplinarity. It advocates for the need of willingness in organizations and project teams to consider both disciplines as equally valid, integrate them in research definition, and create a base for common understanding. Subsequently, it is proposed that transdisciplinary work requires the creation of a group of core members acting as guarantors of transdisciplinarity, thus becoming themselves transdisciplinary humans working in a joined framework of thinking and methods. The article also presents two operational findings integrating the two disciplines within the area of fire safety. The first finding concerns including ‘daily operations’ in fire safety design, as daily practices and perceptions among crew can have a high impact on fire safety. The second finding concerns ‘reclassification of space and place’. It highlights mixing and shifting between work- and leisure-related practices within the same physical space, leading to the identification of new fire scenarios. It also explores the shifts between work, leisure, and emergency places, and their link to the shifts in professional roles of crew.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104512
JournalSafety Science
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

    Research areas

  • Anthropology, Fire safety engineering, Maritime, Offshore, Risk, Transdisciplinary

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