Occupant Behavior in a High-Rise Office Building Fire

Report Date: June 2010

The level of safety that a building affords occupants during a fire is based on regulatory codes or design. However, few of these regulations are based on a scientific understanding of how occupants will react during an emergency. For a better assessment of the protection provided by a building during a fire, a better understanding of the occupant behavior during evacuation is required. This NIST project analyzed evacuation statistics and survey responses from occupants involved in a 32-story high-rise building evacuation during a fire. This study is the first step in a larger project.


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  • National Institute of Standards and Technology

    The NIST Fire Research Division develops, verifies, and utilizes measurements and predictive methods to quantify the behavior of fire and means to reduce the impact of fire on people, property, and the environment. This work involves integration of laboratory measurements, verified methods of prediction, and large-scale fire experiments to demonstrate the use and value of the research products.

    Through its programs in measurement, prediction, systems integration, and the dynamics of fire and its interactions with the built and natural environment, the division provides leadership for advancing the theory and practice of fire safety engineering, fire fighting, fire investigation, fire testing, fire data management, and intentional burning.

Kuligowski, Erica and Bryan Hoskins. Occupant Behavior in a High-Rise Office Building Fire. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute for Standards and Technology, 2010. NIST Technical Note 1664, Print.

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