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Kox, Thomas and Lueder, Catharina (2021): Impacts as Triggers for Weather-Related Decision Making: Observations at the Berlin Fire Brigade Control and Dispatch Center. In: International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, Vol. 12, No. 4: pp. 610-615

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This article presents the results of a series of ethnographic observations at the Berlin fire brigade control and dispatch center during routine and severe weather situations. The weather-related challenges of a fire brigade lie between the anticipation of events and their potential consequences, and the ad hoc reactions to actual impacts of weather. The results show that decisions and actions related to high impact weather are not necessarily motivated by weather warnings alone. Instead, they are reactions to the experience of impacts, for example, an increased number of missions or emergency calls. Impacts are the main trigger for the decision making. Weather is one additional external factor that influences the operational capability of a fire brigade. While commanding officers in a fire brigade control and dispatch center experience weather primarily through technical equipment, verified by ground truth, observations showed that direct personal contact with the regional weather service and colleagues on the ground takes on a greater role in actual severe weather situations. The observations point to the need for increased interagency communication between the emergency services, the weather service, and other organizations to integrate weather information, impacts, and non-weather-related tasks into coherent weather-related decision making.

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