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Human Behaviour In Tunnel Fire Incidents

Fraser-Mitchell, J.N. and Charters, D.A., 2005. Human Behaviour In Tunnel Fire Incidents. Fire Safety Science 8: 543-554. doi:10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.8-543


The behaviour of people in tunnel fires shows many similarities to that in other types of buildings. The recognition, response/pre-egress activities, and evacuation stages apply in both cases; a person's role has a major effect on the behaviour they will exhibit, and people cluster in family, social or ad-hoc groups. Communication between people occurs throughout the incident, in order to raise the alarm, and give instructions/directions to the exits. Pre-egress activity includes similar actions to those performed in building fires, e.g., investigation, fire-fighting, searching for, warning and rescuing others. Rapidly worsening conditions in tunnel fires may however reduce the options available to people. During evacuation, people usually head away from the fire, although they may often find themselves moving through smoke. Tunnel portals (“familiar” routes) will be preferred to side exits unless directions to the contrary are given, or smoke/darkness leaves no choice. Some differences from other building fires are that drivers are very reluctant to abandon their vehicles, and in rail tunnels, passengers are reluctant to abandon their luggage.


human behaviour, egress, tunnel fires

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