Firefighter’s helmet camera study wins Innovation Award

26 June 2017

I&I 2017 People's Choice

A Cardiff firefighter who used helmet-mounted video cameras to show how commanders handled emergencies has won an award for innovation.

Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, now Deputy Assistant Commissioner with London Fire Brigade, began her research at Cardiff University whilst working for the South Wales Fire Service in the city.

Her study with the School of Psychology showed commanders often rely on intuition under pressure, regardless of whether a situation was complex or routine.

Fire officers’ helmets were fitted with GoPro cameras to gain crucial insight.

The findings have led to the development of national policy changing the way officers deal with incidents. A new ‘decision control’ process now helps commanders communicate goals, consequences, risks and benefits of actions taken under pressure.

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton said: “We are delighted to win this Award. I wish to dedicate this award to all London firefighters who have been working so hard to help everyone touched by the Grenfell Tower incident..."

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton

"The driver for this research was to keep firefighters safe. Recent events have demonstrated to the world just the kind of high-pressure, high-risk situations in which our firefighters find themselves. I dedicate my work to keeping them safe so they can continue to safeguard the public.”

Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, London Fire Brigade

Born in Cardiff, Sabrina went to Bassaleg School in Newport. Leaving school at 16, she joined the fire service at 18, working through the ranks to become Group Commander in the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. Sabrina completed a degree in psychology before tackling a PhD at Cardiff. She studied at night, whilst serving as a full-time fire officer and raising a young child. After a secondment to Welsh Government advising ministers and senior civil servants on fire and rescue policy, Dr Cohen-Hatton moved to London 3 years ago as Deputy Assistant Commissioner.

Rob Honey

“It has been a real privilege to be part of the innovative work conducted by this dedicated and inspirational team.”

Professor Rob Honey, School of Psychology

"Truly inspirational"

More than 600 people voted for the project in a ‘People’s Choice’ competition, making it the overall winner at the Awards, sponsored by IP Group plc, Symbiosis IP Ltd and Blake Morgan LLP.

Kevin McKenzie of London Fire Brigade, wins an iPad Mini for voting for the project and providing a winning answer that praised the work.

Kevin’s winning answer explained: “This amazing piece of work will influence the behaviours of commanders and fire fighters across the UK and the globe, leading to improved fire fighter safety while progressing professionalism within the UK fire and rescue service. Truly inspirational.”

Learn more.

"The potential to save lives"

The Innovation and Impact Awards, now in their 20th year, highlight the benefits of partnerships between the University’s academics and external organisations.

Julie James, Minister for Skills and Science, presented the People's Choice Award to London Fire Brigade Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, who was funded by the Chief Fire Officers Association to develop the research project with the School of Psychology’s Professor Rob Honey.

The Minister said: “The People’s Choice winner is an outstanding example of how a research study can be translated into practical decision-making advice with the potential to save lives in an emergency..."

Julie James - Square

"It also highlights the importance of partnerships between academia, government and external organisations in shaping and safeguarding our wider society.”

Julie James, Minister for Skills and Science

Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan said: “The outstanding quality of this year’s entries demonstrates the quality, ingenuity and determination of Cardiff University researchers in developing world-leading innovation and engagement partnerships.”

The People’s Choice winner was selected through a public vote for the Awards, which celebrated four other winning finalists:

I&I Partnership

Innovation in Partnership Award

School of Engineering and Cogent Power: a partnership to develop new electrical steels has supported the development of new materials, processes and products.

I&I Medical

Medical Innovation Award

School of Dentistry with biopharmaceutical company AlgiPharma: developed a drug from seaweed that can combat multi-drug resistant infections.

I&I Business

Business Innovation Award

School of Engineering teamed up with Flintec UK: adapting existing know-how to develop ‘self-weighing’ load cell technology.

I&I Healthcare

Innovation in Healthcare Award

School of Psychology and Welsh Government developed the Wales Applied Risk Research Network to reduce the risk of suicide or physical harm to others for mental health service users.

The Innovation and Impact Awards are organised by the Cardiff University Innovation Network, which has promoted business-university interactions for over two decades.

The University is ranked 2nd in the Russell Group for IP income and accounts for 98% of the IP income generated by Welsh universities.

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