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A Review of Building Evacuation Models, 2nd Edition



Erica D. Kuligowski, Richard D. Peacock, Bryan L. Hoskins


Evacuation calculations are increasingly becoming a part of performance-based analyses to assess the level of life safety provided in buildings. In some cases, engineers are using back-of-the-envelope (hand) calculations to assess life safety, and in others, evacuation models are being used. This paper presents a review of 25 current computer evacuation models, and is an updated version of a previous review published in 2005. Models are categorized by their availability, overarching method of simulating occupants, purpose, type of grid/structure, perspective of the occupants, perspective of the building, internal algorithms for simulating occupant behavior and movement, the incorporation of fire effects, the use of computer-aided design drawings, visualization methods, and validation techniques. Models are also categorized based upon whether they simulate special features of an evacuation, including counterflow, exit blockages, fire conditions that affect behavior, incapacitation of the occupants due to toxic smoke products, groups, disabled or slower-moving occupant, pre-evacuation delays, elevator usage, and occupant route choice.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1680
Report Number


evacuation, evacuation models, building fire, performance-based analysis, egress, simulation


Kuligowski, E. , Peacock, R. and Hoskins, B. (2010), A Review of Building Evacuation Models, 2nd Edition, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 20, 2024)


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Created November 1, 2010, Updated February 19, 2017