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Building Occupant Safety Research 2008



Richard D. Peacock, Jason D. Averill, Erica D. Kuligowski, Richard W. Bukowski


Historically, building egress systems have evolved in response to specific large loss incidents. Currently, systems are designed around a concept of providing stair capacity for the largest occupant load floor in the building with little or no consideration of occupant behavior, needs of emergency responders, or evolving technologies. Aggressive building designs, changing occupant demographics, and consumer demand for more efficient systems have forced egress designs beyond the traditional stairwell-based approaches, with little technical foundation for performance and economic trade-offs. With support from the U. S. General Services Administration (GSA), the Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has been conducting research to provide appropriate scientific underpinnings for understanding occupant movement, behavior and overall safety during building emergencies. This disk includes the results of the 2008 research program conducted by BFRL in cooperation with GSA. This research has formed the technical basis for significant revisions to model building code provisions that consider the impact of multiple aspects building design and use including the emergency use of elevators by occupants and first responders, appropriate design of stairwells, and occupant behavior during building emergencies.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 1091
Report Number


fire safety, egress, stairwells, elevators, high rise buildings, refuge, occupants, evacuation


Peacock, R. , Averill, J. , Kuligowski, E. and Bukowski, R. (2009), Building Occupant Safety Research 2008, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD (Accessed June 22, 2024)


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Created June 12, 2009, Updated February 19, 2017