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11-02-2020 | Issue 5/2020

Fire Technology 5/2020

Egress Parameters Influencing Emergency Evacuation in High-Rise Buildings

Journal:
Fire Technology > Issue 5/2020
Authors:
V. K. R. Kodur, S. Venkatachari, M. Z. Naser
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Abstract

Fire in buildings pose a significant threat to occupants, first responders as well as the structural system. Rapid spread of fire and smoke in buildings can hinder the process of evacuation resulting in loss of human life. Such situations call for a reliable egress system that provides safe evacuation of occupants in minimal time. Updating the occupants and first responders with much-needed situational awareness such as accessible stairwells and exits during the disaster can not only lead to efficient evacuation but also shorten the duration of evacuation in some scenarios. This paper examines occupant evacuation scenarios in fire exposed high-rise buildings. A parametric study is carried out on evacuation strategies in a 32-story typical office building during different fire exposure scenarios. The movement of occupants with and without situational awareness is simulated. The effect of critical parameters such as number of stories, width of the egress paths, location and number of exits on the evacuation process is evaluated. The time required for occupants to evacuate the building is estimated under normal conditions (to simulate fire evacuation drill) and under realistic fire exposure. Results from the study indicate that the two most significant factors that influence evacuation time are the location of stairway within the building and the floors at which fire starts. When fire starts at the lower levels of the building, the evacuation time is the highest. More importantly, if situational awareness is incorporated in emergency evacuation procedure, it can improve the evacuation efficiency in a fire exposed high-rise building; wherein up to 24% reduction in evacuation time is achieved.

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