Assessing Inappropriate Fire Interest using Virtual Reality Technology

Professor Theresa Gannon has secured EIRA funding for a project that will develop, implement and evaluate the first Virtual Reality Technology (VRT) assessment of inappropriate fire interest. More specifically, the objectives are to: develop an immersive yet safe VRT assessment of in appropriate fire interest (i.e. a sitting room fire); and to investigate the effectiveness of VRT assessment of inappropriate fire interest through comparing it with two dimensional or imaginary fire experience.

The project involves collaboration with the NHS; Drs Lona Lockerbie and Shahid Majid at KMPT Trevor Gibbens Unit are key collaborators.

Every week in the UK, criminal firesetting causes 55 casualties and costs £53.8 million. This amounts to 3,080 casualties and costs of nearly £3 billion to the UK each year (IFSEC Global, 2014). Criminal firesetting is extremely serious with similar levels of repeat offending to sex crimes. Even when convicted, offenders may continue to put lives at risk through setting fires in secure settings. Research conducted by our team shows that inappropriate fire interest is a clear risk factor for future firesetting behaviour (Gannon et al., 2013; Tyler, Gannon, Dickens, & Lockerbie, 2015). Yet despite the threat to life and the economy caused by inappropriate fire interest and firesetting, this field is virtually untouched by digital creative technology.