Information sharing and support among residents in response to fire incidents in high-rise residential buildings

Anne Templeton*, Claire Nash, Layla Lewis, Steve Gwynne, Michael Spearpoint

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Understanding how people respond in the first moments of fire incidents is crucial for emergency planning and preparedness, and disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire show that much work is needed to ensure safety for residents of high-rise residential buildings. This research applied the social identity approach to emergencies to explore how group dynamics impact resident behaviour in high-rise building fire incidents. We conducted 16 semi-structured focus group interviews with 40 residents of UK high-rise buildings to explore how they had responded or would respond to a fire in their building. Using reflexive thematic analysis, we found that group processes underpinned who residents looked to for information about the fire and whose views were trusted when deciding response. Collective self-organisation among residents instead of immediately following the safety guidance for the building was a recurring theme across the focus groups. Most residents reported that they would provide and expect help from other residents to evacuate, including relying on others to inform them if evacuation was needed. However, residents who felt there was little social connection among the residents anticipated they would not receive help in the event of a fire, and immediate threat to self also limited the help some felt they were able to provide. We find support for the social identity approach to emergency response in a novel context of high-rise residential buildings and foreground the importance of group processes for fire safety guidance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103713
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Early online date5 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • evacuation
  • group processes
  • collective behaviour
  • high-rise residential building


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