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Human Behavior in the World Trade Center Evacuation



R F. Fahy, Guylene Proulx


An explosion below the World Trade Center plaza in New York City on February 26, 1993, killed six workers, and resulted in injuries to over 1,000 occupants as they made their way out of the affected buildings. The explosion and subsequent fire caused extensive structural damage on several basement levels, interfered with the operation of the fire protection and other emergency systems and resulted in the evacuation of tens of thousands of occupants of the complex. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC) undertook a research project, funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the General Services Administration, NFPA and NRC, to study the behavior of building occupants in this incident and to document, to the extent possible, those engineering details such as building design, fire safety features, training, and smoke spread, that effected behavior. Over 400 occupants of the two 110-story office towers responded to a survey sent to the approximately 1,600 employees and tenants who were members of the fire safety team. This paper summarizes their responses, compares the responses between the two towers, and summarizes data on response times and initial actions.
Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR) -


fire research, fire safety, fire science, human behavior, bombs (ordnance), evacuation, egress, explosions, high rise buildings, office buildings, response time, occupants, surveys, terrorists, terrorism, World Trade Center


Fahy, R. and Proulx, G. (1997), Human Behavior in the World Trade Center Evacuation, Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 28, 2024)


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Created March 3, 1997, Updated February 19, 2017