Fire Protection and Evacuation Procedures of Stadia Venues in New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
This study investigates the vulnerability to fire and preparedness of New Zealand’s stadia for effective evacuations. The study covers aspects of crowd behaviour, observational findings and issues that must be considered when accommodating crowds. It provides an overview of the features stadia use to protect stadium patrons from fire, and a brief history of some famous stadium incidents and their contribution to the profile of the modern stadium. In 2001 there were two major mass casualty fire disasters in highly populated buildings in the USA. Subsequently there has been increased attention placed on the vulnerability of high profile sites and gathering places to large-scale mass casualty events. Effective mitigation in such variable populations is two-part: evacuation and protection of the populous. New Zealand (NZ) does not have work-place buildings of the scale of those in other developed countries such as the USA. The largest capacity structures in New Zealand are entertainment venues, namely stadia. In 2002 New Zealand had ten operational large stadia with the capacity to accommodate in excess of 20,000 patrons. The NZ Fire Service has attended 28 call outs to these stadia over the last 3.5 years. Three of these call-outs were to attend actual fires. By identifying issues particular to stadia evacuations (structural and management practice) it is hoped gain insight as to how to prevent New Zealand stadia from entering the international list of major mass casualty case studies. Experiments performed in this study included; • Analysis of the observed flow movements of egressing crowds at stadia • Simulation of stadium egress using modelling software • Estimated crowd flow potential based on previous pedestrian movement studies and standard calculations. - 2 - The results obtained by these methods were then compared in order to establish their relative consistency and credibility when applied to the New Zealand stadium crowd environment. In the course of this study it was found that there is a lack of consistency across New Zealand stadia in both fire protection and crowd management practices. In several instances, overseas regulations and codes have been adapted for use in the different New Zealand stadia. International practice with regards to stadium design and egress requirements for such varies; hence a review of different international codes and standards was incorporated into the study because of their applicability to New Zealand practice. Experimental analysis showed marked variation in the results obtained for egress when applying different methods of estimation. This relates to the underlying assumptions made in applying the various methods and their appropriateness to the particular dynamics of a “stadium crowd”.