Netherlands Institute for Safety

Arnhem, Netherlands

Netherlands Institute for Safety

Arnhem, Netherlands
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Kobes M.,Netherlands Institute for Safety | Kobes M.,VU University Amsterdam | Helsloot I.,VU University Amsterdam | de Vries B.,TU Eindhoven | And 3 more authors.
Building and Environment | Year: 2010

Findings in earlier studies on fire evacuation and way finding suggest that building features have influence on evacuation behaviour. For example, way finding is believed to be strongly dependent on the lay-out of the building and seems to be hardly dependent on (escape) route signs. Though some aspects are investigated, it is not discussed at great length. In particular there is little insight in how persons find their escape route, and how this process can be supported with lay-out and design measures has been hardly examined. Thus, there is need for insight in the decision-making processes which evacuees pass through. In this paper are the results presented of 83 evacuation experiments in a hotel building at night. The main focus of the study is on way finding during fire evacuation. In the evacuation experiments we investigated the possible influence of smoke and low placed exit signs on the human fire response performance. The experiments are carried out with a traditional research method, namely the registration and evaluation of unannounced fire drills. The study is conducted as part of the validation of a new research method that makes use of serious gaming. The results of the study suggest that smoke has influence on the route choice: when no smoke is perceptible the majority of the participants escape via the main exit and when smoke blocks the route towards the main exit, the majority of the participants escape via the fire exit. Furthermore, low placed exit signs appear to have a positive influence on the use of the nearest fire exit. The personal feature of prior knowledge of the surroundings (or type of surroundings) is also found to have a positive influence on the use of the nearest fire exit. Self-assessments and interviews after a fire evacuation are found to be a disputable method for research on human behaviour in fire. A real-time observation of the people's behaviour during evacuation is considered to give more reliable results. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Kobes M.,Netherlands Institute for Safety | Kobes M.,VU University Amsterdam | Helsloot I.,VU University Amsterdam | De Vries B.,TU Eindhoven | Post J.,Netherlands Institute for Safety
Procedia Engineering | Year: 2010

Human behaviour in fires is mainly studied by incident evaluations and real-life experiments, such as unannounced evacuation drills. The possibilities of virtual reality for studying human behaviour in fires are so far hardly adopted by researchers. Nevertheless, the application of a behavioural assessment and research tool (BART) in virtual reality is expected to be a valuable supplement on the existing research methods. The innovative instrument will be validated by comparing the results of experiments in a virtual environment with results of the same experiments in real life. In this paper some results of case studies on evacuation behaviour in a real hotel building, as well as in a virtual hotel building in BART are given. The participants' route choice, pre-movement time, pre-evacuation behaviour, movement time and evacuation behaviour are part of the analysis in the paper.


Kobes M.,Netherlands Institute for Safety | Kobes M.,VU University Amsterdam | Helsloot I.,VU University Amsterdam | de Vries B.,TU Eindhoven | Post J.G.,Netherlands Institute for Safety
Fire Safety Journal | Year: 2010

The most crucial aspect of a building's safety in the face of fire is the possibility of safe escape. An important precondition is that its fire safety facilities enable independent and adequate fire response performances by the building's occupants. In practice, it appears that the measures currently required by law do not always provide the support that people in burning buildings need. Consequently, understanding how individuals behave in the case of fire and fire evacuation is essential if we are to bring fire safety measures into line with occupants' needs during an incident. This paper contains a review of the available literature on human behaviour in a fire so far as building safety is concerned. The findings are presented as an overview of the critical factors which determine occupants' fire response performances, namely the characteristics of fire, human beings and buildings. The study highlights that some of the assumptions about the existing paradigm of fire safety in buildings are not consistent with the knowledge set out in the literature. The key observation is that psychonomics appear to have significant influence on occupants' fire response performances. Accordingly, the traditional approach to fire safety will have to be supplemented by scientific knowledge from this field. Hence, there is a need for a new approach to fire safety design in buildings, which is set out herein. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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