David Purser

HER
Institution of Fire Engineers 2009 AGM Conference and Exhibition
1-2 July 2009
Human Fire Behaviour
- and Performance Based Design
Prof. David Purser
Hartford Environmental Research
Visiting professor: Universities of Greenwich, Bolton and Maryland
David Purser
HER
Why should a fire engineer consider
human behaviour?
• Because life safety in fire depends on escape time which is greatly affected by
aspects of human behaviour
Available Safe Escape Time > Required Safe Escape Time by an appropriate safety margin
Benefits of understanding human behaviour:
– Enables improved design to better reflect the needs of occupants
e.g. useless to design a building:
• with four expensive escape stairs if occupants will always use only the one
they came in by
• an alarm sounder that occupants ignore because they don’t believe it
represents a fire, or that is activated late because it depends on the action
of a badly trained security guard
– Enables accurate calculations of escape time, taking into account
quantitative data for all different phases of RSET
– Good “behavioural” design not only makes evacuation more efficient, but
decreases the uncertainties in escape time calculations – increasing
confidence in performance based design
David Purser
HER
Basic thesis
• Behavioural responses of individuals to alarms or seeing fires can be complex and
unpredictable, especially time to start evacuation (pre-movement time)
• For groups of people, pre-movement times become more predictable, depending mainly on
a few key qualitative features relating to the nature of the occupants and the type of
occupancy (e.g. office, hotel, airport) and their normal activities. These can be classified
into a small set of “design behavioural scenarios” for which quantitative data (pre-
movement time distributions) can be measured.
• Times for travel phase of evacuation can be calculated from physical parameters (occupant
numbers and densities, escape route dimensions, walking speeds) but a small set of
behavioural parameters (wayfinding, exit choice, merge behaviour) is also important
• Well designed systems have a high level of “affordance” for occupants. This means that
warnings and staff guidance should be clear and encouraging, so occupants are motivated
to respond, and emergency exits should be “attractive” – giving occupants confidence and
motivatation to use them (e.g. emergency exits part of normal circulation routes, green
flashing lights – no signs saying “alarmed emergency exit – do not use”)
David Purser
HER
About British Standard PD7974-6
This lecture centres on PD7974-6 which contains a method developed for
RSET design calculations applicable to a range of different premises. Also:
ISO/TR 16738 – an international version about to be published
David Purser
HER
Escape time formula
RSET (?t
esc
) = ?t
det
+ ?t
a
+ ?t
pre
+ ?t
trav
(RSET) depends upon:
• Time from ignition to detection (? t
det
)
• Time from detection to general alarm (? t
a
)
• Evacuation time, which has two phases
• Pre-movement time (time from alarm to when occupants begin
to move towards the exits) ? t
pre
• Travel time (the time for occupants to travel to a place of
safety) ? t
pre
Total egress for each customer leaving a Restaurant
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Individual Customers (1-11)
T
i
m
e

(
s
e
c
o
n
d
s
)
Flow Time
Response Time
Pre-movement Time
David Purser
HER
Time to detection and alarm
Level A1 alarm system: Automatic detection activating immediate general alarm
?t
a
= 0 Alarm time effectively zero
Level A2 (two stage) alarm system: Automatic detection providing a pre-alarm to security,
manually (or automatic time-out delay) activated general alarm. Alarm time should be taken
as the fixed delay. For a voice alarm system add message time x 2
?t
a
= time out delay (usually 2 or 5 minutes)
Level A3 alarm system: Local automatic detection and alarm near the fire or no automatic
detection with manually activated general alarm.
?t
a
= likely to be long and unpredictable
• Time to automatic detection calculated from fire dynamics
• Time to alarm depends on system – may include behavioural aspects
David Purser
HER
Pre-movement process
•Pre-movement process
•Starts at alarm or cue - ends when travel to exit
begins.
•Has two components:
Recognition - starts at alarm or cue ends with
first response
Response - starts at first response - ends with
travel to exit
David Purser
HER
Pre-movement processes
Recognition: occupants continue with pre-alarm activities
e.g. Working, Shopping, sitting, eating, watching football
Response: occupants carry out a range of activities:
Investigative behaviour to find source of fire
Stopping machinery, securing money or other risks
Gathering children and other family members (for example who have gone to the toilets)
Wayfinding
Alerting others
Fighting fire
Passivity
Relative action sequences
Dwellings
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4
Relative action number
F
r
e
q
u
e
n
c
y
Investigate
Mitigate fire
Help others
Call for help
Other
Passive
Wait for help
Collect items
Escape
Go for help
All people who reported a "get
out" action, N=80
David Purser
HER
Evacuation time
• For a population of occupants both pre-movement and travel
follow time distributions
?t
Pre
= ?t
Pre(first occupants)
+ ?t
Pre(occupant distribution)
• Variable delay followed by a log-normal distribution
Frequency distribution of pre-movement times
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
00:00 00:20 00:40 01:00 01:20 01:40 02:00
Time (seconds)
F
r
e
q
u
e
n
c
y
David Purser
HER
Main qualitative and quantifiable aspects
The main qualitative features used to define the scenarios are :
• Occupant alertness (awake or sleeping)
• Occupant familiarity (familiar or unfamiliar)
• Single or multi-enclosures
Further qualitative features influencing response times in any particular scenario:
? Alarm system
? Spatial complexity
? Fire safety management system
These are classified into three levels of performance
David Purser
HER
Table 1: Design behavioural scenario categories
Category Occupant
alertness
Occupant
familiarity
Occupant
density
Enclosures/
complexity
Occupancy type (ADB purpose
groups)
A Awake Familiar Low One or many Office or industrial (3,6,7a)
B1
B2
Awake
Awake
Unfamiliar
Unfamiliar
High
High
One or few
One with focal
point
Shop, restaurant, circulation space (4)
Cinema, theatre (5)
Ci
Cii
Asleep
Long term:
individual
occupancy.
Managed
occupancy:
Familiar Low Few Dwelling (1a-c)
Without 24 hour on site management.
Serviced flats halls of residence etc
Ciii Asleep Unfamiliar Low Many Hotel, hostel (2b)
D Medical care Unfamiliar Low Many Residential (institutional) (2a)
E Transport Unfamiliar High Many Railway station Airport (5)
David Purser
HER
Occupant behaviour Time from ignition
(min.sec)
Fire visible on camera approximately half metre flame height. Customer
sees fire and warns shop assistant who investigates and goes to fetch fire
extinguisher.
Assistant fighting fire with extinguisher, flame height approximately 1
metre, fire quite large, fails to extinguish and moves away
All this time people are entering the shop, passing the fire, shopping and
waiting at the checkout to pay for goods
Shop filling with smoke, people reluctant to leave shopping
People evacuating thought thick smoke
Staff evacuating
A few people occasionally re-enter near doorway
Front doors shut from outside
0.19
1.19
1.19-3.30
3.30
4.00
4.15
4.00-5.00
5.00
Sequence of events in clothing store
David Purser
HER
David Purser
HER
Food hall pre-movement time distribution
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
0 20 40 60 80
Tine (seconds)
P
e
r
s
o
n
s

s
t
a
r
t
i
n
g

p
e
r

5

s
e
c
o
n
d
s
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
0.2
0.25
F
r
a
c
t
i
o
n

o
f

p
o
p
u
l
a
t
i
o
n

p
e
r

5

s
e
c
o
n
d
s
freq
Series2
Customers ignore sounder but well-trained staff achieve efficient evacuation
David Purser
HER
Total egress for each customer leaving a Restaurant
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Individual Customers (1-11)
T
i
m
e

(
s
e
c
o
n
d
s
)
Flow Time
Response Time
Pre-movement Time
Spoken
message begins
Shopping centre evacuation
behaviour measurements
David Purser
HER
Flow rates of Doors B, C, D and the Stairs
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
0.00.00 0.01.00 0.02.00 0.03.00 0.04.00 0.05.00 0.06.00
Timing from Alarm
P
e
o
p
l
e
Door C
Door B
Stairs
Door D
Cambridge theatre
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
0.00 0.10 0.20 0.30 0.40 0.50 0.60 0.70
Time (minutes)
p
e
r
s
o
n
s

s
t
a
r
t
i
n
g
/
2

s
e
c
o
n
d
s
Stalls
Circle
David Purser
HER
? Location out of view of camera. Occupant position guessed
* Re-enters to collect jacket. Leaves again at 84 sec
1
Coat-rack Coffee
2
3
4
5
6
12? 11? 10? 9? 8
7
Sounder: 4 sec, message: 13s, Total: 17s
Recognition time: time until first movement of
egress behaviour
Response time: time to prepare to leave
Travel time: time to turn to face exit and leave
ROOM
Person Recognition
time (sec)
Response
time (sec)
Travel time
(sec)
Evacuation
time (sec)
1 16 40 5 61
2 15 17 5 37
3 17 20 2 39
4 20 30 3 53
5 16 30 6 52
6 18 39 5 62
7 ? ? 3 67
8 16 30 13 59*
9 ? ? ? 55
10 ? ? ? 65
11 ? ? 2 71
12 ? ? 4 51
Mean 17 29 5 56
David Purser
HER
Results
David Purser
HER
Results
• Significant differences between PTAT recognition times and alarmtypes P< 0.05
• Short voice alarm: shortest times, but less reliable response since no one left in Trial 6.
• Long voice alarm: slightly longer but most reliable
• Sounder: longest and most variable
• Recognition time (time to cease normal activity) was main component
• With voice alarms occupants tended to wait for message to be repeated before responding
Mean Recognition and Response
times (pooled data)
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Sounder Long short
T
i
m
e

(
s
e
c
)
Response time
Recognition time
Mean Recognition and Response
times (individual trial data)
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
T1 T4 T2 T5 T3 T7
T
i
m
e

(
s
e
c
)
Response time
Recognition time
First and Last Pre-movement
times
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Sounder Long short
T
i
m
e

(
s
e
c
)
Last out
Fiirst out
Message
9 s Message
4 s
David Purser
HER
Unnannounced evaucations of BRE buildings - total evacuation times
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5
Time (min)
F
r
e
q
u
e
n
c
y
For offices and other workplaces with well-trained staff a simple sounder
is sufficient to obtain an efficient evacuation
Office and workshop evacuations
David Purser
HER
Design Behavioural Scenarios for Evacuation Time
Quantification
• Pre-movement time is often the greater part of evacuation time.
• Pre-movement time
? variable, depending on a range of occupant and building system
characteristics.
? generally short and predictable when fire safety management culture
and building systems are good, and occupants are alert and well
trained.
? likely to be long and unpredictable otherwise.
• Situations differ fundamentally in different types of occupancy
David Purser
HER
Sounders, voice alarms and
evacuation management
• Simple sounders were found to be effective in buildings with well-trained and
well-managed occupants familiar with the building and systems
• Voice alarms were more effective where occupant unfamiliar with the building
and systems
• Reinforcement of evacuation by trained staff found to be very effective in all
cases
David Purser
HER
Frequency distribution of pre-movement times
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
00:00 00:20 00:40 01:00 01:20 01:40 02:00
Time (seconds)
F
r
e
q
u
e
n
c
y
Most important are the times for the first few people to
move and the last few people to move
David Purser
HER
Methods for single retail enclosure
• For a crowded case - evacuation time for an enclosure (? t
evac
) is given by:
? t
evac
= ? t
pre(1st percentile)
+ ? t
trav (walking)
+ ? t
trav (flow)
(1)
? t
pre(1st percentile)
= time from alarm to movement of first few occupants
? t
trav (walking)
= walking time (unimpeded average walking speed x average travel distance to exits).
? t
trav (flow)
= time of total occupant population to flow though available exits.
• For a sparsely occupied case - Evacuation time from an enclosure is then given by:
? t
evac
= ? t
pre(99th percentile)
+ ? t
trav (walking)
(2)
? t
pre(99th percentile)
= time from alarm to movement to time of movement of last fewoccupants
(= time to first percentile plus time from first to 99
th
percentile)
David Purser
HER
Interactions between pre-travel, presentation and flow times and effects
on evacuation times
Total evacuation time - Sprucefield premovement
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
0 200 400 600 800 1000
Population of space
T
i
m
e

(
s
)
%95
%99
last out
N & M
%95
%99
Design
population
Sprucefield99% out
%99
presentation
Total evacuation time – Sprucefield PTAT distribution
David Purser
HER
Effect of fire safety management level on pre-
movement time
Persons/sec
Alarm
?t
pre(occupantdistribution)
Time
Pre-movement time of first occupants to move and
subsequent pre-movement time distribution is lengthened by
progressively lower levels of fire safety management
?t
pre(firstoccupants)
Pre–movement time distribution - Level M1 management
Pre-movement time distribution - Level M2 management
Pre-movement time distribution - Level M3 management
David Purser
HER
Table 2: Suggested pre-times for different design behavioural scenario
categories
Scenario category and modifier ? t
pre (first
percentile)
(min)
? t
pre (99th percentile)
1

(min)
A: awake and familiar:
M1 B1 – B2 A1 – A2
M2 B1 – B2 A1 – A2
M3 B1 – B2 A1 – A3
For B3 add 0.5 for wayfinding
M1 would normally require voice
alarm/P.A. if unfamiliar visitors likely to
be present

0.5
1
>15


1.0
2
>15

B: awake and unfamiliar
M1 B1 A1 - A2
M2 B1 A1 – A2
M3 B1 A1 - A3
For B2 add 0.5 for wayfinding
For B3 add 1.0 for wayfinding
M1 would normally require voice
alarm/P.A

0.5
1.0
>15

2
3
>15
Ci: sleeping and familiar
( e.g. dwellings - individual occupancy)
M2 B1 A1
M3 B1 A3
For other units in a block assume 1
hour
Cii: managed occupancy
(e.g.serviced apartments, hall of
residence)
M1 B2 A1 – A2
M2 B2 A1 – A2
M3 B2 A1 – A3
Ciii sleeping and unfamiliar
(e.g. hotel, boarding house)
M1 B2 A1 – A2
M2 B2 A1 - A2
M3 B2 A1 – A3
For B3 add 1.0 for wayfinding
M1 would normally require voice
alarm/P.A.


5
10





10
15
>20


15
20
>20



5
>20





20
25
>20


15
20
>20
1
total pre-movement time = ?t
pre (first percentile)
1st percentile + ? t
pre (99th percentile)

Figures with greater levels of uncertainty are italicised
David Purser
HER
Cases where a long period of maintained structural
performance is required
• Any sleeping risk (residential domestic, institutional or
other [e.g. hotel or HMO]), health care.
• Hotels and hostels an immediate simultaneous evacuation
strategy may be used, but long periods are needed and
some occupants may not evacuate. (one hour or more)
• Each room or suite needs to be a compartment, at least in
relation to the common escape routes
• For apartment blocks of flats or maisonettes the main
strategy is to defend in place. Only the affected unit and
adjacent areas are evacuated.
• The structure thus needs to withstand burnout of any
particular unit
David Purser
HER
Multi-enclosure multi-storey building case
• Floor clearance times for 10-storey two stair office
building:
• Modelled in GridFlow
• Validation using monitored experimental evacuations
• In model and experiments time to clear each floor
very depended upon three parameters:
• The maximum specific flow rates (persons/minute/metre
width) through storey exits, on stairs and through final
exits - range of different values used
• The “standing” capacity on the stair between storeys –
which for a given stair depends upon the assumed
“packing” density taken up by the occupants as they
descend the stair – limited data available
• The merge ratio at the storey exits between occupants
on the stair and those from the floor. – limited data
available
• 100 stair 0 floor – clears from top down
• 0 stair 100 floor - clears from bottom up
• 50:50 – clears from bottom up
David Purser
HER
Representation of stair in Gridflow




Link to floor below
Link to floor above
•People descending from floor
above lend to move towards centre
line and slow for the turn
•This creates a space for people at
storey exit to merge into the left
hand flow, even under crowded
conditions
•The result tends to a 50:50 merge
ratio
Door link forming
storey exit
David Purser
HER
Gridflowsimulation: Simultaneous evacuation of a 10-storeys served two stair building
lobby
stair
element Storey and
half landings
links
Elapsed time and number
of occupants in enclosure
Top
Floor
Occupants descending from
mid landing above
Occupants descending
to next mid-landing
David Purser
HER
Flow and standing capacity of stairs

0
50
100
150
200
250
300
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Time (min)
O
c
c
u
p
a
n
t

n
u
m
b
e
r
10th floor 9th stair 10th stair 9th floor 8th stair 7th stair 6th stair 5th stair
4th stair 3rd stair 2nd stair 1st stair 9th lobby 10th lobby Final flight 8th floor
8th lobby 7th floor 7th lobby 6th floor 6th lobby 5th floor 5th lobby 4th floor
4th lobby 3rd floor 3rd lobby 2nd floor 2nd lobby 1st floor 1st lobby
9
th

lobby
clears
8
th

lobby
clears
1st
lobby
clears
10
th

lobby
clears
1
st
lobby
clears
10
th
lobby
clears
1
st
lobby
clears
8
th
lobby
clears
9
th
lobby
clears
9
th
(fire) floor
clearance
Simultaneous evacuation of a 10-storeys served 2
stair building designed for phased evacuation
Maximum stair capacity 66 persons at 4 persons/m
2
David Purser
HER
Times to protected stair - simultaneous
•Effect of occupant density on stairs: Default is 4 persons/m
2
which is very
crowded, 2 persons/m
2
is considered more reasonable and likely.
•This increases evacuation times into protected stair
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
0 2 4 6 8 10 12
Floor served
T
i
m
e

t
o

p
r
o
t
e
c
t
e
d

s
t
a
i
r

(
m
i
n
)
10 served 4/m^2
10 served 2/m^2
5 served 2/m^2
5 served 4/m^2
Time for evacuation into a protected stair for two-stair buildings prescriptively designed for simultaneous
evacuation: 5 and 10 storeys served, 2 or 4 persons/m
2
maximum occupant density on stair
David Purser
HER
Effects of exposure to fire or smoke
• Most building occupants will only be aware of alarms and not see smoke
• Occupants more likely to start evacuation if more than one cue, so
hearing alarms and seeing smoke more effective than alarm alone
• But occupants underestimate threat from fire and smoke and often go
towards fire to fight it, so being in the same enclosure as the fire does
not necessarily result in instant evacuation
? Occupants reluctant to enter smoke-logged escape routes, so affects
exit choice
? When exposed to smoke, optical opacity and irritancy slow movement
speed
? Exposure to asphyxiant gases or heat leads to incapacitation when a
sufficient dose had been inhaled
These effects on evacuation time can be calculated using a combination of evacuation and
fractional effective dose modelling
David Purser
HER
Conclusions
• Human behaviour can be adequately incorporated into engineering design by
consideration of a small number of key parameters
• Good design with high affordance enables efficient and predictable evacuation
calculations
• RSET calculations need to consider detection, alarm, pre-movement and
travel times
• Pre movement times most variable – but distribution data can be collected for
a simple set of design behavioural scenarios (first and last occupant times the
most important)
• Travel times depend mainly on physical parameters, but behavioural aspects
including exit choice, merging behaviours and densities can also be important

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