NIST logo

Publication Citation: Stair evacuation of older adults and people with mobility impairments

NIST Authors in Bold

Author(s): Erica D. Kuligowski; Richard D. Peacock; Emily Wiess; Bryan Hoskins;
Title: Stair evacuation of older adults and people with mobility impairments
Published: October 31, 2013
Abstract: Engineers analyze occupant movement data for the safety and protection of a population during emergency building evacuations. Quantifiable variables, such as: stairwell geometry, pre-evacuation delay, occupant speed, and population density form engineering models that can predict the performance of an egress system‰s building design, emergency planning, and event reconstruction. Researchers have constructed several robust models for able-bodied populations; however, barely any egress movement data exists for individuals with mobility impairments. To refine current evacuation models and develop a better understanding of all types of occupant movement and behavior during evacuations, the Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) accumulated fire drill data from fourteen high-rise office and residential buildings. This paper presents the movement speeds and behavioral data of residents evacuating a six-story assisted living facility located on the East Coast of the United States. The building‰s population comprised of a diverse array of elderly and disabled residents descending the stairwells by the following methods: self-evacuation without assistance, assistance using a cane, assistance from another occupant or firefighter, or assistance using a stair chair. Movement data of these specific groups will be compared and contrasted with other data collected on mobility impaired individuals. In the current study, NIST observed overall average speeds ranging between 0.11 to 0.29 m/s, which approximate the speeds of disabled and elderly people found in earlier studies. These data provide an adequate confirmation of exiting literature values typically used for disabled movement speeds in addition to updated values for future analyses.
Citation: Fire Safety Journal
Keywords: fire safety, egress, building evacuation, stairs, disabled, elderly
Research Areas: Fire Modeling, Emergency Egress and Access, Building and Fire Research
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.firesaf.2013.09.027  (Note: May link to a non-U.S. Government webpage)