Nordic Fire and Rescue Services in the Twenty First Century

Societal change is accelerating through continued rapid population growth and significant changes in demographics, technological advances, and increasing interconnectedness between various infrastructures. Together with climate change and a new global security situation these trends will inevitably lead to a change in the risk landscape. One of the key actors that has to deal with such change is the Fire and Rescue Services. These organisations are both governed by, and dependent on, formal and informal networks.

There is a clear risk that these formal and informal networks are slow to recognise and adjust to a rapidly changing world, which could inhibit the application of new technology or the translation of national and international directives to local implementation, ultimately leading to inefficient handling of crises. This project will study existing formal and informal networks in the Nordic context, how they are established and used throughout the whole emergency management life-cycle including prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Based on sociometrics, qualitative methods and tools from active network theory and social network theory, this project will develop strategies to proactively change emergency management networks in support of a future risk landscape.

The problem-solving process includes the complex chain of problem identification, problem understanding and solution generation, i.e. deciding on a solution and actions necessary throughout the life-cycle of emergency response, including prevention, pre-incident planning, response and post-incident assessment. Specific questions that will be studied include:

  • How stable are existing formal and informal FRS networks for emergency management in the Nordic countries? How are these networks developed and maintained? Will such networks act and react as expected during an incident? How do they relate to emergent networks that develop during an incident response? Do they support traditional normative structures or allow the development of new structures (specifically concerning power balance and gender)?
  • Which capabilities for problem solving need to be developed to best support emergency management networks in FRS for the future? How can the FRS identify which local capabilities are needed compared to the capabilities needed on a regional, national or international level? How can these capabilities be implemented and updated in the organisation?