Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton

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One of the most senior women in the fire service, Sabrina combines experience in making tough decisions in pressurised, stressful situations with studying the behavioural neuroscience of decision making. As well as insights into leadership and risk, her own personal story - homeless at 15, a firefighter at 18, combining frontline service with studying for a PhD in Psychology - is a lesson in resilience, determination and achievement.


Sabrina Cohen-Hatton is one of the few women to have served at the top of the fire service. She combines her role as one of the most senior female firefighters in the UK with work as a Research Fellow at Cardiff University where she specialises in behavioural neuroscience, in particular how humans make decisions under pressure. She has been appointed as the National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC) International Lead, and is the author of The Heat of The Moment – A Firefighter’s Stories of Life and Death Decisions. 

Showing resilience and determination from a young age, Sabrina was homeless on the streets of Wales when she was fifteen. After two years on the streets selling The Big Issue, she was able to secure accommodation, before joining the fire service at eighteen. She studied at the Open University and then at Cardiff University while working as a firefighter, completing her PhD in Psychology. In the fire service, Sabrina became one its highest-ranking women officers. She climbed the ranks serving in some of the largest fire brigades in the country, whilst maintaining her academic work with Cardiff University. Her subsequent research into high-pressure decision making in the emergency services has not only won awards but has also influenced policy at a global level.

As a researcher Sabrina looks at the fundamentals of decision-making, behaviour, and cognition. As a fire officer, she brings her first-hand experience of how these traits operate in real, emotionally charged, stressful and uncertain situations. She looks at how the brain interprets information, and how events become associated longer-term with psychological and social responses.

In her best-selling book The Heat of The Moment, Sabrina recounts both her early formative experiences, as well as life on the frontline and the extraordinary insights it has brought. From judging when and how to evacuate a building, to which of her colleagues should be sent into a blaze, she takes an honest, human look at the highs and lows of one of the riskiest and most challenging of occupations. While many of these stories seem unique to fire and rescue work, her insights and lessons apply to everyone, in life and in business.

In The Gender Bias: The Barriers That Hold Women Back, And How To Break Them, Sabrina, through an analysis of studies and data, unpicks why women are judged differently, examines why that matters and offers practical solutions on how we can tackle our biases and overcome sustained systems.

An Ambassador for The Big Issue, Sabrina has been named as one of their top one hundred Changemakers, and she has also been recognised for her achievements by Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire. 


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Book written by Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton
Book written by Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton


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JLA Presents

Event - 30/04/2024 - 9:00 am

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