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Päivi Juuso, Alexandra Byström, Petter Hansson and Carina Nilsson. Missing is Michael Försth. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

The goal: fewer elderly people die in fires

Published: 17 November 2020

Among the people who die in house fires, the elderly stand out in the statistics. At Luleå University of Technology, research is done on how staff at the home care service feel that they can contribute to increased fire safety.
– We want to investigate whether it is the best solution, says Michael Försth, professor.

Despite the fact that training efforts for people over the age of 65 have increased regadring fire safety, the number of deaths has not decreased.
– About 100 die each year in fires. A large part of them are older persons, says Michael Försth, professor in Structural Engineering and specialist in fire safety.
He says that the purpose of the research project is to investigate how work with fire safety is falling out in the home care service.

Collaboration between researchers

In the survey, the municipalities in Sweden are asked questions about how they work with fire safety among the elderly, and staff are also interviewed.
– The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, MSB, has a national vision that fire mortality should be reduced, Carina Nilsson, senior lecturer in nursing, says.
MSB is also part of the reference group in this work.

The project is a collaboration between researchers in Nursing and Structural Engineering at Luleå University of Technology.
– We will investigate how staff in the home care service, both municipal and private, look at the possibilities of contributing to better fire safety for the elderly who still lives at home, says Carina Nilsson.


Questionnaire to all municipalities

In part of the survey, interviews will be conducted with managers and staff who work closest to the eldery persons.
The student Petter Hansson, who is in the last semester on the programme Fire Protection Engineer, is also working on the survey.
– I have sent out a questionnaire to all municipalities in Sweden and asked them about how they work with fire safety issues in the home care service, he says.

These are questions such as whether the staff carry out regular inspections regarding fire safety.

– This collaboration between different subjects is in line with the  vision of the university and we can use each others competencies,  Päivi Juuso, Associate Professor of Nursing, says.

Want to investigate further

The idea is that the results of this research can be used to streamline the fire protection work of the home services. The answers in the survey can also be one of several documents needed to assess whether the home care service is a suitable actor for performing fire protection work.
– And then we can investigate how we reach the best way to work with these issues so that fewer elderly people will die in fires, Michael Försth says.