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Understanding Human Behavior in Fires


This one-day Understanding Human Behavior in Fires seminar is the prediction of human behavior during a fire emergency is one of the most challenging areas of fire protection engineering. Yet, understanding and considering human factors is essential to designing effective evacuation systems, ensuring safety during a fire and related emergency events.

The first module of this course will present the many types of characteristics that may influence occupant performance, reaction and movement process in an emergency situation. It will include a discussion on the Protective Action Decision Model (PADM) and how it serves to inform our understanding of the flow of information to occupants via cues from the fire, building or people in a fire situation and the resultant decision-making processes that influence their protective action responses during the fire incident. Discussions will also address exposure to toxicants, irritants, heat and visibility loss in a fire and the potential impacts, including additive effects, on the human body at varying degrees of exposure.

The second module will focus on modeling human behavior in fire and will include a discussion on the development and selection of occupant behavioral scenarios. The module will also discuss the many considerations that affect the choice of a particular calculation approach or model, such as project data needed, model input data needed, complexity of scenario(s), detail of output needed, and need to assess the impact of behavioral assumptions.

The third module will discuss fire situation management and will include discussions on enhancing human response to emergency notification and messaging and managing the movement of occupants during fire emergencies

Learning Objectives:

After completing this seminar, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the many types of characteristics that may influence occupant performance, reaction and movement process in an emergency situation.
  • Understand the theory and process of individuals or groups of occupants taking protective actions in the context of the building fire emergency timeline.
  • Understand how fire effluents can lead to incapacitation of people subject to the hazards of a fire.
  • Obtain guidance to assist in developing occupant behavioral scenarios as part of a performance-based design.
  • Understand the basic concepts of occupant movement and how to estimate the time for occupants to move to a place of safety or refuge.
  • Obtain understanding and guidance for the selection of one of the various methods of performing egress calculations.
  • Develop an understanding of the various sources of uncertainty in a human behavior analysis.
  • Understand how people process emergency warning information and examine factors that may inhibit the process.
  • Consider the numerous factors that play roles in the use of evacuation, relocation, and protect-in-place strategies when deciding how building occupants can best be safeguarded during fire emergencies.



Target Audience 

This seminar has been developed for engineers, Architects, Code Officials/AHJs, and Public Educators.

Material Requirements

Each participant is required to buy the UPDATED SFPE Guide to Human Behavior in Fire, 2nd Edition and bring it to class with them.

Seminar Assessment

Participants will take a short quiz at the end and candidates will need to pass with a minimum score of 70%.

CEUs .7 | PDHs 7 will be offered. Upon completion of a post-test attendees will be awarded a certificate of attendance.

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