"Caught Between a Fire and a Hot Place" : a report on human behavior in fire
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
There has been extensive research carried out studying human behaviour in fire and the factors contributing to it. The research indicates the general public doesn't comprehend the speed at which a fire can take control over a building and the necessity to respect it. This lack of understanding unfortunately reflects in their inappropriate behaviour with cataclysmic consequences resulting. We have the explained the process involved in which humans become aware of fires and their resulting behaviour and associated actions. We have mentioned the influences which encourage people to fight fires, and how confronting a fire increases the individuals stress levels resulting in misinterpretation of instructions thus putting the individual at risk. Egress is discussed and factors affecting time to evacuate and egress route selection are mentioned. We talk about density of crowds and the associated behaviour affecting evacuation. The danger of evacuation using lifts is stressed. The concept of panic is described and misconceptions about when people panic are revealed. We describe the phenomenon with respect to large crowds and give examples describing the unfortunate consequences. Refuge is also covered, as to why, where, and how people seek refuge with respect to domestic and commercial buildings. We look into how behaviour is now affecting building design and the problems associated with this due to the high speed of change in our society. Finally we take a detailed look at education, training and management so as to control evacuation ensuring the requirements for egress are all taken into account thus resulting in emphasis of safety. The loss of life in fires is usually due to a poor response to early fire cues and lack of urgency due to a blase attitude to fire alarms. Failing to become familiar with evacuation routes and other fire safety procedures (if installed in the premises) leads to congestion along familiar evacuation routes. The object of this report is to inform readers of these lapses in communication in a hope that future design of buildings will be more "user friendly" when coming to the evacuation due to an emergency.