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

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Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. The number and presentation of these statements has evolved since an earlier presentation [14].

  2. This list is by no means exhaustive, but represents the key behavioral conventions that are identified, understood, and employed within model development and engineering practice to some degree of frequency.

  3. An individual’s perception of their environment and the manner in which they may function within it is also address in Gibson’s theory of affordances [32].

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Acknowledgments

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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Kuligowski, E.D., Gwynne, S.M.V., Kinsey, M.J. et al. Guidance for the Model User on Representing Human Behavior in Egress Models. Fire Technol 53, 649–672 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10694-016-0586-2

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