Connecting aesthetic judgment and situational awareness: Multimodal Decision Making on the fireground

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Through an investigation connecting the aesthetic judgment of artists and the situational assessment of Incident Controllers on the fireground, Multimodal Decision Making is developed as a challenge to the position that aesthetic forms of awareness are unsophisticated and inferior sources of knowledge. The effect of most decisions made by Incident Controllers when coordinating an operational response to a fire are irreversible, yet they must be made under time-pressure, often on the basis of conflicting and incomplete information. In such a fast paced, time- pressured environment, I propose that Incident Controllers are basing their decisions on more than scientifically verifiable measurement and calculation. I maintain that they are aesthetically attuned to reading the fireground in the same way as an artist makes decisions concerning image construction and art criticism. This paper introduces one fireground incident, the House Alight, in order to demonstrate how Multimodal Decision Making enables the explanation of decisions previous thought illogical and of no sound basis. N.B. Inspector is a rank title, and Incident Controller is the role they perform when directing fireground operations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-250
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of the Arts in Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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