, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 73-87
Date: 22 Aug 2013

Modelling total evacuation strategies for high-rise buildings

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the use of egress models to assess the optimal strategy in the case of total evacuation in high-rise buildings. The model case study consists of two identical twin towers linked with two sky-bridges at different heights. Each tower is a 50-floor office building. The use of either horizontal or vertical egress components or a combination of them is simulated. The egress components under consideration are stairs (either 2 or 3 stairs), occupant evacuation elevators, service elevators (available or not for the evacuation of the occupants), transfer floors and sky-bridges. Seven different evacuation strategies have been tested which consider the total evacuation of a single tower. The evacuation scenarios have been simulated with a continuous spatial representation evacuation model (Pathfinder). In order to perform a cross validation of the model results, two strategies involving the evacuation using stairs or occupant evacuation elevators have also been simulated using a fine network model (STEPS). Results refer to the analysis of total evacuation times. The simulation work highlights the assumptions required to represent the possible behaviours of the occupants in order to qualitatively rank the strategies. The lowest evacuation times are obtained simulating strategies involving the sole use of occupant evacuation elevators and the combined use of transfer floors and sky-bridges. This study suggests that the effectiveness of evacuation strategies involving the combination of stairs and elevators significantly decreases in high-rise buildings if they are not combined with appropriate messaging/signage to guide occupants in their behaviours.