Evacuation experiments in offices and public buildings

Simo Hostikka, Tuomas Paloposki, Tuomo Rinne, Juha-Matti Saari, Timo Korhonen, Simo Heliövaara

    Research output: Book/ReportReport


    In fire safety engineering, the performance based design concept relies strongly on the use of computer simulations of fire and evacuation processes. The validation of the simulation tools requires experimental information on the human behaviour during the evacuation situations. In this work, two different types of evacuation situations were studied. The first type was evacuation drills which are normally carried out as part of the safety training of the staff in public buildings and workplaces. The advantage of evacuation drills is that the building (and, if necessary, also the occupants) can be equipped with monitoring devices in order to observe the events during the evacuation. The drawback of the evacuation drills is that the building occupants are normally informed beforehand which may affect the decision making processes. The second type was actual evacuations which occur every now and then. The advantage of actual evacuations is that the decision making processes are likely to be similar to what they would be in case of a real fire. The main techniques used for the observation of evacuation drills were video cameras and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Both techniques were used in the evacuation drills in a public library and two office buildings. A large amount of information was obtained and the problems in the application of the observation techniques were identified. In particular, the results show that when the RFID technique is used, the placement of the antennas and tags is very important. With careful placement of the antennas and tags, the reliability of the RFID technique as applied in the current work may be sufficient for scientific purposes. The reliability is poor if the tags are placed under the clothing of other absorbing material. In the observation of an actual evacuation of a large shopping centre, the recordings of the surveillance cameras were used to measure the flow rates of people. The results are very promising and indicate that the collection of surveillance camera recordings from large evacuations should be started.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationEspoo
    PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    Number of pages53
    ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-6636-5
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    MoE publication typeNot Eligible

    Publication series

    SeriesVTT Working Papers


    • offices
    • public buildings
    • public libraries
    • fire safety
    • personnel
    • evacuation
    • Radio Frequency Identification
    • RFID
    • surveillance cameras
    • escape monitoring


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