This paper outlines the initial stage of Kent Fire and Rescue Service's project to develop a comprehensive understanding of the behaviours and associated motivations of those directly experiencing an accidental dwelling fire (ADF). Although human behaviour in fires in public, commercial and industrial spaces is a well-established area, for the past 30 years, the study of human behaviour in dwelling fires has not received a comparable degree of attention. The first stage of this applied research was a pilot study comprising semi-structured interviews with 10 individuals who had experienced an ADF and suffered physical injury as a result. This paper will outline the background to and findings of this qualitative study. Key among the findings was that several interviewees clearly expressed their desire to take early action to tackle or mitigate the effects of a fire. It also identified that a majority of interviewees entered or attempted to enter the room of fire origin to investigate, tackle or mitigate the effects of the fire and also expressed a strong belief in the validity and appropriateness of such actions. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.