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This book applies a behavioral point of view to individuals’ fire safety in historic buildings. It outlines theoretical and operative issues, based on recent studies and international guidelines.

Firstly, critical issues for Building Heritage fire safety are widely discussed, by including the modelling of human factor and man-environment-fire interference in these architectural spaces. A significant part of the book includes a discussion on emergency modeling and simulation. A source code for representing the fire evacuation process (including man-evacuation facilities interactions) is offered to the reader.

Methods for effectiveness assessment of risk-reducing solutions are provided and tested in a case-study. Being a structured approach to occupants-related problems during a fire in heritage buildings, it offers an innovative methodology and practical examples that researchers and designers can use as a guide when proposing and testing solutions.

Evaluation indexes for effectiveness assessment (also useful for future guidelines or handbooks) are included. Readers are encouraged to understand these indexes within the proposed approach, so as to extend their applications and possibilities of how to introduce human behaviors-based solutions in other fields.

Lastly, attention is focused on the proposal and evaluation of low-impact and not-invasive strategies, such as ones based on wayfinding elements. From this point of view, the pros and cons of wayfinding systems are discussed: these are important today, especially for fire-safety designers, because of the ongoing innovations in this field.



Chapter 1. Introduction

Fires, earthquakes, floods, and other kinds of disasters damage an enormous amount of buildings and people each year around the world.

Gabriele Bernardini

Chapter 2. Fire Safety and Building Heritage: The Occupants Perspective

Current regulations and approaches to fire safety seem to be generally characterized by a schematic and deterministic point of view, especially while dealing with Building Heritage. They generally consider how interventions on buildings could be enough for reducing people’s risk, because occupants would surely behave in the correct way. Hence, massive modifications to the original building layout can be adopted (limited, e.g., to increasing number and dimensions of egress paths), while effective man-environment and man-man emergency evacuation interactions are underestimated. Starting from this issue, this chapter firstly analyses main limitations of these approaches, by focusing on human behaviors during a fire, especially in case of emergencies in historical buildings. To this end, main aspects of both significant international and national regulations and literature studies on human fire evacuation behaviors are organized and reviewed. Hence, the importance of innovative strategies, such as the ones based on the Fire Safety Engineering approach, is discussed by mainly evidencing the fundamental impact of human behavior modeling as a new tool for designing and evaluating low-impact risk-reduction solutions.

Gabriele Bernardini

Chapter 3. How to Increase Occupants Safety with No Architectural Modifications: Defining Effective Wayfinding Systems

Wayfinding is ones of the most significant issues during a fire evacuation in Historical Buildings, mainly because of possible building layout complexity, level of occupants’ familiarity with the architectural spaces, and potential environmental modifications due to fire effects. Proper wayfinding systems could be able to increase safety levels for occupants by reducing the egress time. Furthermore, these solutions are generally able to maintain a low impact on the building itself (and on its layout). However, according to a Behavioral design (BD) approach, they should be designed in order to effective provide the needed assistance to evacuees, by “interacting” with their behaviours. This chapter firstly offers an organization of existing wayfinding strategies, by mainly distinguishing active and passive systems (since they can bring or not “dynamic” directional information to the evacuees). The attention is focused on the interaction with human behaviors and the possibility to apply the systems (and related building components) to Building Heritage scenarios. Methodologies to evaluate the evacuation facilities effectiveness are outlined according to previous researches and BD studies recommendations.

Gabriele Bernardini

Chapter 4. Application to a Case Study: Fire Safety in Historical Theaters

Historical theaters represent a representative case-study in Building Heritage fire-safety issue, because of environmental factors (e.g.: structures vulnerability, fire source presence, artistic value of building, building layout) and occupants’ features. (mainly: high occupants density, level of familiarity with architectural spaces). This chapter compares different solutions to the wayfinding issue in similar scenarios, by means of an Italian significant case-study. Experimental drills and simulation activities are used in order to define the effectiveness of innovative wayfinding systems (both “active” and “passive”) in comparison to the current evacuation facilities. Results show how the proposed systems enhance motion speeds, evacuation times, and the percentage of people choosing the correct evacuation paths because they are effectively able to supply people needs in evacuation and interact with their behaviours. At the same time, solutions involve easy-to-apply building components, that are introduce no architectural modifications to the original building layout and features.

Gabriele Bernardini

Chapter 5. Conclusions and Perspectives

Improving occupants’ safety in Building Heritage and guaranteeing the architectural spaces preservation could be jointly reached through an innovative approach based on Behavioral Design-based strategies. The implementation of effective and interactive wayfinding systems based on human needs and responses in fire evacuation could significantly solve these two issues. A significant example is provided by this book discussion and results. Nevertheless, the capabilities of wayfinding solutions and BD criteria use should be extended and further works are needed. This chapter summarizes the main reached goals and the further steps in related researches (mainly, for researchers) and in the application of similar strategies (mainly, for designers), by developing these solutions at different scales (building, urban scale), and for other emergencies. Finally, some interesting perspectives in adopting the proposed design methodology to other issues in quality of architectural spaces (the ones affected by man-environment interactions, such as thermal comfort).

Gabriele Bernardini
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