Skip to content
 Phil Butler

Phil Butler

Research student, School of Psychology

Email:
butlerpc@cardiff.ac.uk
Location:
Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT

Research summary

I am interested in human factors, especially those associated with the command of emergencies or disasters.  This includes human error, expertise, experience, decision making, situation awareness, teamwork, leadership, communication, stress and resilience.  As well as the ergonomics of an emergency service commander’s working environment and how they might impact upon performance of the role.

Undergraduate education

2011 - 15 BSc Psychology, Birkbeck College,  London University

Postgraduate education

2015-2016 MSc Social Science Research Methods, Cardiff University

2016 – present PhD Psychology, Cardiff University

Awards/External Committees

2017 Cardiff University Innovation in Policy Award

2017 Cardiff University People’s Choice Innovation and Impact Award

Employment

1984 – 1990 Dorset Fire Brigade

1990 – 2015 London Fire Brigade

Research interests

Research topics and related papers

  • Decision making of UK Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) incident commanders
  • Non-technical skills of UK FRS incident commanders
  • Behavioural marker system for UK FRS incident commanders
  • Stress and resilience and how they influence UK FRS incident command

My research has concentrated on the UK Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) and the psychology of incident command.  I have conducted research focused on incident commanders’ decision making.   The study included 6 different FRSs and involved the use of helmet cameras on incident commanders when in charge of real emergencies. Subsequent interviews were conducted using the helmet camera footage to aid recall and probe them about the cognitive skills they used.  An analysis of the interview transcriptions identified a distinct pattern of decision making, which was not in accordance with the extant UK FRS decision making model. The research subsequently influenced the revision of that model.

I have led a research project supported by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) that identified the non-technical, command skills of UK FRS incident commanders.  These are the social, cognitive and personal skills that are essential for safe and effective performance (e.g. leadership, personal resilience, and decision making).

My next research project developed THe INcident Command Skills (THINCS) behavioural marker system, including a THINCS app (funded by the ESRC), based upon the identified non-technical command skills.  THINCS measures their performance by incident commanders in training and operational environments. A major evaluation project followed as part of an internship with the NFCC, which was funded by the Fire Service Research and Training Trust, and involved 7 UK FRSs.

I am currently leading a project to identify the how stress and personal resilience effect FRS incident command.  Most stress-related research involving the UK FRS concentrates on firefighters and their mental health or how posttraumatic stress affects them. It does not focus exclusively on the stressors associated the role of incident commander. A key area of interest is how stress and personal resilience influence decision making.

Funding

2015-20  ESRC 1+3 MSc and PhD

2017-18  ESRC: THINCS App

2018-19  Fire Service Research and Training Trust: National Fire Chiefs Council Internship

Research group

Cognitive Science

Perception and Action

Research collaborators

Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, Cardiff University

Prof. Rob Honey, Cardiff University

Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton

Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton

Honorary Research Fellow

2019

2015

External profiles