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Philip Butler

Research student, School of Psychology

Research summary

My previous research focused on UK Fire and Rescue Service  (FRS) incident commanders’ decision making.   The study included 6 different FRS 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 am currently leading a project to identify the  non-technical skills, e.g. leadership, situation awareness and decision making,  of UK FRS incident commanders and the subsequent development of a behavioural  marker scheme that may be used to assess video or live performance.

I am also involved in a research project investigating  communication and information transfers between UK FRS incident commanders and  frontline staff and the resultant degree of compliance.

I  am interested in examining the eye movements of UK FRS incident commanders whilst  they conduct an initial assessment of the scene of an emergency and to explore  the effects of anxiety and experience on their eye movements, situation  awareness and decision making.

Undergraduate education

2011 - 15 BSc Psychology, Birkbeck College,  London University

Postgraduate education

2015 – current MSc in Social Science Research  Methods, Cardiff University


1984 – 1990 Dorset Fire Brigade

1990 – 2015 London Fire Brigade

Research interests

Research topics and related papers

Non-technical skills and associated behaviours  of UK FRS incident commanders

Physiological differences between novice and  expert UK FRS incident commanders when assessing the scene of an emergency and  the influence of anxiety

UK FRS incident commanders’ situation awareness  and decision making


ESRC 1+3 MSc and PhD

Research group

Cognitive Science

Perception and Action

Research collaborators

Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, Cardiff University

Prof. Rob Honey, Cardiff University