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Guidance for the Model User on Representing Human Behavior in Egress Models



Erica D. Kuligowski, Steve Gwynne, Michael Kinsey, Lynn Hulse


Structures are currently designed and constructed in accordance with prescriptive and performance-based (PBD) methodologies to ensure a certain level of safety. The performance-based approach requires the quantification of both ASET (Available Safe Egress Time) and RSET (Required Safe Egress Time) to determine the degree of safety provided. This article focuses on the RSET side of the equation, for which an engineer would use some type of egress modelling approach to estimate evacuation performance. Often, simple engineering equations are applied to estimate the RSET value. Over time, more sophisticated computational tools have appeared. Irrespective of the approach adopted, appropriate and accurate representation of human behavior in fire within these approaches is limited, mainly due to the lack of a comprehensive conceptual model of evacuee decision-making and behavior during fire emergencies. This article initially presents the current overarching theory of human behavior in disasters, as well as a set of behavioral statements, or mini-theories, from various fire studies. Once presented, guidance is provided on how these behavioral statements might be incorporated by the engineer into an evacuation model, in order to represent human behavior in fire within his/her life safety analysis. The intent here is to improve the accuracy of the results produced by performance-based calculations and analyses, via better representation of human behavior in fire.
Fire Technology


human behavior, fire, egress modeling, performance-based design


Kuligowski, E. , Gwynne, S. , Kinsey, M. and Hulse, L. (2016), Guidance for the Model User on Representing Human Behavior in Egress Models, Fire Technology, [online], (Accessed April 24, 2024)
Created May 24, 2016, Updated June 2, 2021