Geodemographic classifications are increasingly being used to examine spatial patterns in for example crime incidence, higher education opportunities and inequalities in health outcomes. At the same time fire and rescue services are increasingly employing geodemographic classifications in range of operational and strategic tasks. Geodemographic classifications have been used in a number of applications to characterise areas based on their social circumstances and are multi-dimensional by design; in contrast census derived measures tend to be uni-dimensional, measuring social or material deprivation on a scale of high to low albeit derived as a composite of contributing factors. This study uses a database of fire incidents to examine the extent to which applying such classifications enables a discrimination of such areas when compared to the use of more commonly used deprivation measures. Specifically trends in fire incidence are compared with both census-derived data and small area geodemographic classifications in order to assess the value of such classifications as exploratory tools in investigating potential associations with socio-economic patterns. These findings are couched in terms of wider debates regarding the use of neighbourhood classifications in adequately capturing what are often complex patterns in fire incident patterns in relation to such factors as community cohesion and social capital. This in turn highlights the need for more research to explore how geodemographic classifications can be used to provide a contextual basis for detailed analysis of local patterns of fire incidents.
- Fire incidents
- Census measures
- Geodemographic classification
- Exploratory analysis