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The Process of Verification and Validation of Building Fire Evacuation Models



Enrico Ronchi, Erica D. Kuligowski, Paul A. Reneke, Richard Peacock, Daniel Nilsson


To date, there is no International standard on the methods and tests to assess the verification and validation (V&V) of building fire evacuation models, i.e., model testers adopt inconsistent procedures or tests designed for other model uses. For instance, the tests presented within the MSC/Circ.1238 Guidelines for evacuation analysis for new and existing passenger ships provided by the International Maritime Organization are often employed for the V&V of models outside their original context of use (building fires instead of maritime applications). This document discusses the main issues associated with the definition of a standard procedure for the V&V of building fire evacuation models. A review of the current procedures, tests (e.g. the MSC/Circ.1238 Guidelines), and methods available in the literature to assess the V&V of building evacuation models is provided. The capabilities of building evacuation models are evaluated studying their five main core components, namely 1) Pre-evacuation time, 2) Movement and Navigation, 3) Exit usage, 4) Route availability and 5) Flow constraints. A set of tests and recommendations about the verification of building evacuation models is proposed. Suggestions on simple qualitative validation tests are provided together with examples of experimental data-sets suitable for the analysis of different core components. The uncertainties associated with evacuation modelling are discussed. In particular, a method for the analysis of behavioural uncertainty (uncertainty due to the use of distributions or stochastic variables to simulate human behaviour in evacuation modelling) is presented. The method consists of a set of convergence criteria based on functional analysis. The last part of this document presents a discussion on the definition of the acceptance criteria for a standard V&V protocol.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1822
Report Number


Evacuation, Modelling, Verification, Validation, Human behaviour in fire, Building fires


Ronchi, E. , Kuligowski, E. , Reneke, P. , Peacock, R. and Nilsson, D. (2013), The Process of Verification and Validation of Building Fire Evacuation Models, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed April 24, 2024)
Created November 20, 2013, Updated October 12, 2021