Fire Technology

, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 649–672 | Cite as

Guidance for the Model User on Representing Human Behavior in Egress Models

  • Erica D. Kuligowski
  • Steven M. V. Gwynne
  • Michael J. Kinsey
  • Lynn Hulse


Structures are currently designed and constructed in accordance with prescriptive and performance-based (PBD) methodologies to ensure a certain level of occupant safety during fire emergencies. The performance-based approach requires the quantification of both ASET (Available Safe Egress Time) and RSET (Required Safe Egress Time) to determine the degree of safety provided. This article focuses on the RSET side of the equation, for which a fire protection or fire safety engineer would use some type of egress modelling approach to estimate evacuation performance. Often, simple engineering equations are applied to estimate the RSET value. Over time, more sophisticated computational tools have appeared—that go beyond basic flow calculations; e.g. simulating individual agent movement. Irrespective of the approach adopted, appropriate and accurate representation of human behavior in response to fire within these approaches is limited, mainly due to the lack of a comprehensive conceptual model of evacuee decision-making and behavior during fire emergencies. This article initially presents the set of behavioral statements, or mini-theories, currently available from various fire and disaster studies, organized using the overarching theory of decision-making and human behavior in disasters. Once presented, guidance is provided on how these behavioral statements might be incorporated into an evacuation model, in order to better represent human behavior in fire within the safety analysis being performed. The intent here is to improve the accuracy of the results produced by performance-based calculations and analyses.


Egress model Performance-based design Human behavior Fires Required safe egress time Egress Modeling 



Kuligowski would like to thank Richard Peacock, Therese McAllister, Jason Averill, and Enrico Ronchi for their contributions during the NIST review process. Gwynne would like to thank Ahmed Kashef, Cameron McCartney and Lisette Seguin for their contributions during the NRC review process.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erica D. Kuligowski
    • 1
  • Steven M. V. Gwynne
    • 2
  • Michael J. Kinsey
    • 3
  • Lynn Hulse
    • 4
  1. 1.National Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA
  2. 2.National Research Council CanadaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.ArupLondonUK
  4. 4.University of GreenwichLondonUK

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