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Occupant Decision Making In Office Building Fire Emergencies: Experimental Results

Saunders, W.L., 1997. Occupant Decision Making In Office Building Fire Emergencies: Experimental Results. Fire Safety Science 5: 771-782. doi:10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.5-771


This report examines the results from a methodology that uses a film and accompanying questionnaire to collect data on decision making during the early stages of an office building fire emergency. The film presents a credible modern office scenario and simulates certain physical and social cues, associated with a developing office fire emergency. It pauses briefly after the presentation of each cue and participants are requested to scale the probability of doing certain actions on a multi-stage questionnaire. The results from the study indicate that there is validity in this technique of data collection, as significant discrimination is evident in the participants' response to the cues presented. Nevertheless, the preferred behavioral choices of the occupants, in response to cues associated with a building fire emergency, indicates a need for caution in the assessment of the time taken to evacuate a building. Even when the cues were clear indications of a fire, the preferred behavior of the respondents, was to alert and assist others, rather than immediately evacuate the building.


building evacuation, emergency decision making, fire safety science, human behavior in fires, office building fires

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