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Research References for Fire Safety


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Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL)


BFRL is the national laboratory dedicated to enhancing the competitiveness of U.S. industry and public safety performance prediction methods, measurement technologies and technical advances needed to assure the life cycle quality and economy of constructed facilities. Its products are used by those who own, design, construct, supply, and provide for the safety or environmental quality of constructed facilities.


The site provides information about the laboratory and its research projects. The full text of the BFRL Newsletter provides research highlights. BFRL publications can be searched, and a number of Fire Modeling Programs, and other software are available. The pages for each division also give details of their activities and publications. In addition, the Fire Research Information Services (FRIS), provide access to a fire research bibliographic database, a list of international fire conferences, and related links

Journal Papers

Proulx, G., (2001), “Occupant behaviour and evacuation”, Proceedings of the 9th International Fire Protection Symposium, Munich, Germany, May 25-26, 2001, pp. 219-232.

Abstract: Today most buildings are equipped with adequate fire safety systems. Nevertheless fires still occur, even fatal fires. During a fire, problems frequently arise because systems were put in place with false expectations regarding how occupants actually behave during fires. The observation that occupants tend to ignore the sound of the fire alarm in large public buildings such as shopping centres, museums or airports, continuing their normal activities should be taken into account. In office buildings, well designed fire doors have failed to fulfill their role because occupants have installed door stops to facilitate free movement in the everyday use of the building; thus in the event of a fire, the doors stay open. Many of these problems could be foreseen if more attention were given to human behaviour in fire. In addition, there are a number of other factors that could have an impact on occupant response and behaviour. These factors are related to the occupant's characteristics, the building characteristics and the fire characteristics. Consideration should be given to the interplay of these factors to gain a better understanding of human behaviour in fire and to improve the design and implementation of fire safety systems in buildings.

Proulx, G. (2002) “Understanding human behaviour in stressful situations”, Workshop to Identify Innovative Research Needs to Foster Improved Fire Safety in the United States, National Academy of Sciences, Delegate Binder Section 7, Washington, D.C. (Washington, D.C. Apr, 2002),  pp. 1-5. (NRCC-45394) Available at: <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Abstract: The events of September 11, 2001 have shocked the public imagination regarding the safety of highrise buildings. Prior to these events, the reluctance to evacuate upon hearing the fire alarm signal was regularly observed in highrise buildings. Following the tragic events of September 11, many highrises were totally evacuated on minimal cues. The perception of risk seems to have been heightened right after the event but will this condition last over time? Highrise buildings are seldom meant to be totally evacuated. The strategy used instead is phased evacuation or a protect-in-place approach. Today during an emergency, are highrise building occupants prepared to stay in and wait to be instructed before leaving the building? Studies should investigate the risk perceived by highrise building occupants since September 11 and how these perceptions might change over time. Further studies should compare highrise occupant intention of response during an emergency and actual response through unannounced drills. Authorities, architects and engineers need these findings in order to appropriately design buildings, fire safety systems, training materials and instructions provided to occupants during an emergency.

S.M. Lo, K.C. Lam, Richard K.K. Yuen, (2000), “Views of building surveyors and building services engineers on priority setting of fire safety attributes for building maintenance”, Facilities, Volume 18, Numbers 13/14, pp. 513-523.

Abstract: Fire safety is a major concern of most maintenance managers in Hong Kong, especially since many recent, serious fires. To maintain a building at an acceptable fire safety level, the building fabric (structural fire protection means), as well as the building services (fire services installations), should be kept to good and efficient standards. However, maintenance budgets do not always meet ever-increasing needs. Priorities must be set for different aspects of maintenance works, including fire safety. Priorities setting is normally based on the professional knowledge and experience of the maintenance managers, whose attitudes may affect the priority setting, as well as the decision making. Describes a study to investigate the attitudes of maintenance professionals of different backgrounds on the priority setting of various fire safety attributes. It was found that the professionals’ backgrounds do influence their priority setting. Nevertheless, they all perceived that structural means of escape and maintenance planning are important areas.


Eric W Marchant, (2000), “Fire Safety System – Interaction and Integration”, Facilities, Vol. 18, no. 10/12, pp. 444-455.

Abstract: Fire safety is a performance characteristic of buildings. The technological functions of fire safety systems interact with the systems that are necessary for other environmental control systems and to fulfil other performance characteristics expected from the building. For some aspects of fire safety the systems needed to generate the ambient environment and the control expected over the ambient environment are conceptually the same systems that are needed for the control of the environment that changes because of the intrusion of products of combustion. Outlines the interactions between fire safety needs and the systems that help to generate and monitor the ambient environment.


G. Ramachandran, (1999), “Fire safety management and risk assessment”, Facilities, Volume 17, Numbers 9/10, pp. 363-376.

Abstract: The paper discusses the problems encountered in the management and quantitative evaluation of fire risk and safety in a building. Rational methods for obtaining solutions to these problems are provided by non-deterministic mathematical models rather than deterministic models. This is due to the fact that the occurrence and spread of an accidental (not arson) fire are random phenomena affected by uncertainties caused by several factors. Non-deterministic models discussed briefly in the paper include simple statistical and probabilistic models, regression methods, probability distributions, fault and event trees and stochastic models. The paper only provides a framework for applying these models to any type of facility. For any type, it may be necessary to modify these techniques, collect all the relevant data and perform the analyses to derive results and conclusions applicable to that type.


John Hinks and Marie-Cécile Puybaraud, (1999), “Facilities management and fire safety during alterations, changes-in-use, and the maintenance of building facilities – a management model for debate”, Facilities, Volume 17, Numbers 9/10, pp. 377-391

Abstract: This paper reports some interim findings from organisational research into site fire safety which looks at the relevance of Contractor and Facilities Manager attitudes to safety as a component of the overall safety process. Presents a discussion on some of the practical problems associated with Facilities Managers managing the maintenance of fire safety during alterations works. Commences with an illustration of the Facilities Management context of site fire safety that draws upon a number of relevant fire events. It is intended to provoke a wider debate on the relevance of the Facilities Management role in protecting the business. A Project Safety Plan checklist is suggested for Facilities Managers, based on the authors’ review of existing construction site fire safety guidance and codes of practice. Explores a broadening of the Facilities Management role, as interface manager, which in most cases of refurbishment and alterations will constitute the common managerial link to the core business.


Brian J. Meacham, (1999), “Integrating human behavior and response issues into fire safety management of facilities”, Facilities, Volume 17, Numbers 9/10, pp.

Abstract: Although there is a growing international movement toward the use of engineered or performance-based fire safety design, current practice is dominated by prescriptive-based design. In prescriptive-based fire safety design, only those requirements prescribed by appropriate building regulations, installation standards, or approved documents tend to be applied. Because these requirements typically include fire protection measures, such as fire detection and signaling systems, automatic sprinkler systems, fire compartmentation, and emergency egress systems, there is often an assumption that occupants, employees, and users of a facility will be safe should a fire occur. However, there are a variety of factors that could affect the actual fire safety of a facility that comply with the appropriate regulations. Fuel type, loading, configuration, and location can change, leading to an increase in fire risk. Occupants may not see, hear or understand fire alarm signals as fire alarm signals. Fire detection and signaling systems, fire suppression systems, or smoke management systems may not be 100 percent functional at all times. Fortunately, many of these factors can be controlled for, if they are understood and addressed, within a fire safety management plan. To assist with such planning, this paper discusses various human behavior and response issues that may affect life safety during a fire or emergency, and provides suggestions for integrating these issues into a fire safety management plan.

Alan N. Beard, Jaime Santos-Reyes, (1999), “Creating a fire safety management system for offshore facilities”, Facilities; 17: 9/10 1999; pp. 352-362

Abstract: Fire safety management on offshore platforms has been a matter of major concern since the publication of the Cullen report into the Piper Alpha fire. In order to be able to achieve and maintain an acceptable level of fire risk it is desirable to consider the system as a "dynamic whole". The intention in this research has been to construct a fire safety management system which is both efficacious and resilient. To this end a systemic approach to fire safety for an offshore platform has been pursued, employing the Viable System Model and the Failure Paradigm Method.

Guylène Proulx, (1999), “How to initiate evacuation movement in public buildings”, Facilities; 17: 9/10 1999; pp. 331-335.

Abstract: Research and experience show that occupants tend to ignore fire alarm signals and continue their activities in large public buildings. Alternative means to alert the public in the event of an emergency and to initiate evacuation movement are discussed. The use of a standardized Temporal-Three fire alarm signal is advocated to ensure occupant recognition of the fire alarm. Also, a communication system combined with closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) is recommended to convey precise information to the public. Building managers are considered responsible for developing a fire safety plan, and for ensuring that employees are well trained and that communication among staff is efficient in order to transmit information to the public that will prompt fast and safe evacuation movement.

Lars Benthorn and Håkan Frantzich (1999), “Managing evacuating people from facilities during a fire emergency”, Facilities; 17: 9/10; pp. 325-330

Abstract: A review of research, interviews and experiments at an IKEA building are presented with results that could affect the planning and real time management. Subjects had to choose between a normal exit and an emergency exit in different conditions. The results show that the majority of subjects choose the normal exit even if the distance is double compared to the emergency exit. The only exception is when the emergency exit is open and it is possible to see the daylight outside. Findings show that a ring signal is often misunderstood but a spoken message is understandable.


Megan Walters & E.M. Hastings, (1998), “Fire safety legislation in Hong Kong”, Facilities; 16: 9/10 1998; pp. 246-253

Abstract: One of the key issues to emerge from disaster literature is that, regardless of the nature of the disaster, there exist both internal and external pre-conditions that cause an incident to become a disaster. While it may be difficult for governments to exert control over internal preconditions, it is possible to provide a regulatory environment which exerts control over external preconditions. Increasingly governments are moving towards the adoption of performance - rather than prescriptive-based codes in the provision of legislation. By examining a number of disastrous fires which have taken place in Hong Kong, the paper traces the prescriptive approach adopted by the Government towards forming fire safety legislation and considers whether performance codes would provide a more appropriate regulatory environment.


Derek J. Howarth , Chakib Kara-Zaitri, (1999), “Fire safety management at passenger terminals”,  Disaster Prevention and Management; 08: 5 1999; pp. 362-369

Abstract: Discusses fire safety management in passenger terminals. Describes the design, development, implementation and validation of a fire safety management model for use in airports, railway and bus stations. The research carried out is based on a comprehensive analysis of 25 terminals (air, bus, rail and sea) in the UK and Europe. Develops the relationship existing between fire risk, people and fire safety management. Although the model is still being reviewed and augmented, it has already produced interesting results and has proved to be an efficient, robust and quantifiable tool for use by fire safety managers.


Megan Walters , E.M. Hastings, (1998), “But is fire the issue ...? The problems of managing multiple ownership buildings in Hong Kong”, Property Management; 16: 4 1998; pp. 229-235.

Abstract: In common with many other cities in the world, Hong Kong has a large number of older and less well-maintained buildings which, for predominantly economic reasons, are still highly utilised by a variety of mixed and non-compatible uses. In these circumstances, a comprehensive approach to ensuring high standards of property management is essential, but recently a series of disastrous fires have highlighted some of the difficulties of managing property in this environment. The Government's response to fire disasters has been to enact additional fire safety legislation. While the promotion of a safer environment in older buildings is to be applauded, it is arguable that such an approach merely addresses the symptoms - the fires - and not the underlying cause - the management of such buildings. An examination of property management practice in Hong Kong indicates there are two important systemic factors which influence the standards and quality of services provided. The first is the way in which the property management industry is currently structured, the barriers to entry and the lack of regulation of property managers. The second is the way in which the responsibilities and relationships between owners and property managers are dictated by the method of ownership in multi-ownership property. It is the impact that this method of ownership has on the twin issues of safety and property management which is examined in this paper.


Siu Ming Lo, (1998), “A building safety inspection system for fire safety issues in existing buildings”, Structural Survey; 16: 4; pp. 209-217

Abstract: The majority of the population in Hong Kong live in multi-storey high-rise buildings. The safety conditions of these buildings are a major concern of the Government and the public. Fire safety is one of the major concerns especially after several large fire tragedies in the past few years. The Hong Kong Government has introduced a mandatory safety assurance requirement which is called the "Building Safety Inspection Scheme". Under this scheme, building owners are required to appoint appropriate building professionals to assess the safety level of their buildings and to recommend appropriate actions. One of the major aspects relates to the fire safety. In order to ensure uniform standards and easy administration, the Hong Kong Government intends to publish a Code of Practice on the assessment for use by building professionals. This paper proposes a fire safety assurance approach including the fire safety assessment method which may form the basis of the Code of Practice.


N. E. Groner, (2001), “Intentional systems representations are useful alternatives to physical systems representations of fire-related human behavior”, Safety Science, Vol. 38, issue 2, PP. 85-94.

Abstract: Fire safety engineering analyses have been mostly confined to describing how the physical environment causes the events, including human behavior, that comprise a fire incident. Despite the use of cognitive and information processing constructs to explain behaviors, the person remains a "black box" that generates behavioral responses when exposed to physical stimuli in the environment. These "physical systems representations" are well-suited to the prediction of some human behaviors, for example, travel times constrained by physical crowding. However, physical systems representations are ill-suited to the task of modeling cognitively-derived human behaviors, because the mediating effects of peoples' intentions result in behavioral responses that are poorly correlated with objective measures of environmental stimuli. Examples of such behavior are delays in initiating evacuations when people are exposed to alarm signals and other ambiguous signs of fire. Because research based on physical systems representations neglects to investigate how individuals use information in their pursuit of goals, the resulting models are often complicated, lack parsimony, and do not generalize well to new settings. This paper discusses how "intentional systems representations" can describe the cognitively derived responses of people in a more parsimonious manner, and can be used to design fire safety systems that capitalize on the adaptive abilities of people. (A fire safety system is viewed as being comprised of all relevant components, including people, that play significant roles in the defense against a fire threat.) In an intentional systems representation, events are driven by the goals that people pursue. Using the framework of physical versus intentional systems representations, various models of fire-related human behavior are reviewed and evaluated. Also discussed is recent research by Groner and Williamson (1998, Scenario-based goal decomposition: a method for implementing performance-based fire safety analysis. In: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Fire Research and Engineering, 200¯211) to develop an approach, called "Scenario-Based Goal Decomposition," whereby the performance of fire safety systems is analyzed by integrating physical and intentional views into a general systems approach. A pilot study is discussed that used this approach to describe and evaluate the predicted response of a fire safety system to a representative high-challenge fire scenario at a university library. It is also argued that systems approaches that integrate physical and intentional systems representations axe the only way to fully realize the potential of performance-based codes.


F. Ozel, (2001) ,Time pressure and stress as a factor during emergency egress”, Safety Science, Vol. 38, issue 2, PP. 95-107.

Abstract: While human beings, as information processing entities, use environmental cues during route selection in fire emergencies, time pressure, i.e. the limited time available to people, and the stress created by the physical threat of fire, can affect how they process environmental information. This study focuses on theories on decision making under time pressure and stress, and applies them to the area of emergency egress and route selection during fires. Narrowing of the range of cues attended to under time pressure, the emphasis placed on the negative aspects of decision alternatives and filtering of information are some of the examples of distortions in the information processing capacity of the individual. Spatial behavior greatly relies on how environmental information is utilized, and therefore any miscalculations in the use of this information can lead to ineffective spatial, thus exiting, behavior. Furthermore, while some degree of stress can lead to a beneficial vigilance in information processing, further increase in stress can create a hypervigilant state, limiting the capacity of the individual to process environmental information effectively. The article also provides examples from investigative reports of fires to further discuss the topics addressed.


J. D. Sime, (2001) “ An occupant response shelter escape time (ORSET) model”, Safety Science, Vol. 38, issue 2, PP. 109-125.

Abstract: This paper contrasts the physically deterministic travel/flow model of behaviour in fires, represented by prescriptive fire codes and performance-based fire engineering, with an occupant response model. An occupant response shelter escape time (ORSET) model is advocated as a framework unifying aspects of psychology, architecture, engineering and facilities management. Important to this are the concepts of occupancy, occupants and occupant locations, allied to visual and sensory access/exposure, used to define people's knowledge of their surroundings. The paper provides a generic outline of ORSET, expressed in terms of occupancy risk criteria: occupancy population and activity profiles, a pre-movement index, visual access/wayfinding design/index and means of escape. These serve as inputs to the appraisal and measurement of occupant response pre-movement and movement, wayfinding patterns of behaviour and corresponding safety factor adjustments to minimum shelter and/or travel/flow time calculations. Attention is drawn to the importance of researching and modelling occupant starting time distributions, staggered phases of response, arrival and flow rates at alternative exits. The available safe escape time needs to be greater than ORSET. The paper discusses the scope, implications, development and applications of the model, concluding with related recommendations.


H. Notake, M. Ebihara and Y. Yashiro, (2001)Assessment of legibility of egress route in a building from the viewpoint of evacuation behavior”, Safety Science, Vol. 38, issue 2, PP. 127-138.

Abstract: A new framework for a fire safety design method is now in preparation based on the concept of performance-based design in Japan (Tanaka, 1995. State of the Art ¯¯ Development of a Performance-based Fire Safety Design Method of Building in Japan. Proceedings of Mini-Symposium Fire Safety Design of Buildings and Fire Safety Engineering. Building Research Institute). In this paper, the authors focus on the legibility of the egress route as an important performance factor in assuring the safety of occupants in buildings, and intensively discuss its assessment. Relevant, previous work on the evaluation of the legibility of the egress route is reviewed and studied. The paper considers the legibility of egress route as the geometric access potential of the egress route network in the architectural plan. The legibility of the egress route is a function of the physical measures that allow quantitative evaluation of how quickly occupants can escape or how easily they can find exits. From this point of view, the travel distance during an evacuation is one of the most effective and quantifiable measures of the legibility of the egress route. The assessment of the travel distance based on several assumptions of the occupants' probable choice of egress route is introduced. A network modeling technique is utilized to represent the configuration of the egress route and to calculate the travel distance. Through numerical computations, an effective configuration is determined such that the average expected travel distance across the possible layouts of the egress route is minimized.


P. A. Olsson and M.A. Regan, (2001), “A comparison between actual and predicted evacuation times”, Safety Science, Vol. 38, issue 2, PP. 139-145.

Abstract: Evacuation times and occupancy movement were observed in three university buildings during a simulated fire emergency. Two of the buildings were tall buildings, which contained offices, computer rooms, libraries, study rooms, and lecture theatres. The other building was a one-storey building, which was constructed of three large lecture theatres. All buildings were relatively new and were equipped with emergency lighting, illuminated exit signs, and evacuation alarms that varied between a siren type, and a pre-recorded PA message. Human behaviour and movement were studied visually and recorded with video cameras. The total evacuation time, pre-movement time-lags, and the non-direct evacuation behaviour were analysed. The building occupant loads were recorded, and this, together with CAD drawings, served as in data to the evacuation model Simulex. In addition to the measured data, occupant load factors recommended in the literature were used to derive input data to a second set of simulations. The theoretical evacuation times were calculated and compared with the actual recorded escape times. It was found the Simulex can be used with confidence to simulate travel times for the buildings previously described. The pre-movement times presented in the literature for office buildings and places of assembly seemed to be very conservative in comparison with the measured time-lags. It was also found that individuals with pre-recorded PA information were faster in the completion of pre-movement activities, than those in siren alarm evacuations, though the time difference were small (<32 s). A difference in pre-movement times was discovered between the dissimilar activities performed in the enclosures.


G.E. Hartzell, (2001), “Engineering analysis of hazards to life safety in fires: the fire effluent toxicity component”.  Safety Science, Vol. 38, Issue 2, pp. 147-155.

Abstract: A methodology is described for addressing the smoke toxicity component of fire hazard in a manner that permits the flexible application of exposure criteria according to desired fire safety objectives. Fundamental to the methodology is the concept of upper and lower limits on exposure of occupants to toxic fire gases. Exposure in excess of an upper limit would be expected to result in serious harm to a significant number of occupants, while exposure below a lower limit should ensure that essentially all occupants would be safe from harmful consequences. A user has the flexibility to set exposure criteria over this range as may be appropriate for a desired fire safety objective with a particular occupancy. The status of exposed occupants is assessed at discrete time intervals throughout the progress of a fire scenario, with the time at which such exposure has the potential to compromise occupants' health and safety being determined. Comparison of this time against the time required for occupants' movement and escape to a place of refuge serves to evaluate the effectiveness of a building's fire safety design.


D.A. Purser and M. Bensilum, (2001),Quantification of behaviour for engineering design standards and escape time calculations”. Safety Science, Vol. 38, issue 2, PP. 157-182.

Abstract: Occupant behaviour in fires depends upon interactions between the occupants, the building and the developing fire. Although reasonable calculation models exist for the estimation of movement time (the time required for occupants to flow out of the building), time required for behaviours taking place before the movement phase, collectively known as pre-movement time, are poorly described and quantified. A series of monitored evacuation studies and investigations of fire incidents in a range of different building types is described. Strategies for the application of behavioural data to design standards and escape time calculation methods are discussed.


Klote, J. H.; Levin, B. M.; Groner, N. E., (1994), “Feasibility of Fire Evacuation by Elevators at FAA Control Towers”. NISTIR 5445

Abstract: Throughout most of the world, warning signs next to elevators indicated they should not be used in fire situations. Because these elevators have not been designed for fire evacuation, they should not be used for fire evacuation. However, the idea of using elevators for fire evacuation has gained considerable attention. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has sponsored a project to study the feasibility of elevator emergency evacuation at air traffic control towers. This paper describes this project including (1) a general discussion of elevator evacuation, (2) presentation of conceptual criteria for such elevator evacuation systems, and (3) application of that criteria to several ATCTs. It is concluded that elevator emergency evacuation is not feasible for existing ATCTs. This could change for some standard designs if water resistant elevator components are developed that make water protection of elevators feasible. However, elevator emergency evacuation is feasible for new ATCTs, and this would involve significant challenges concerning engineering and human factors.


Lougheed, G.D. & Hadjisophocleous, G.V. (2001), “Smoke hazards from fires in high
places". NRCC-45004 (also available at: ASHRAE Journal, 43, (6), June, pp. 34-46, 2001)

Abstract: Atria have become popular in commercial, office and residential buildings because they provide attractive, environmentally controlled, and naturally lit spaces. Such spaces, however, present a challenge for fire-protection engineers because of their height and the lack of floor-to-floor compartmentalization that, in other buildings, limits the likelihood of fire and smoke spreading from the floor of fire origin to other areas of the building. Evacuation routes in atria are of concern because they become vulnerable to spreading smoke unless smoke management measures are used.


Proulx, G.; Laroche, C.; Jaspers-Fayer, F & Lavallée, R. (2001), “Fire Alarm Signal
Recognition - Internal Report”, Institute for Research in Construction, National Research Council Canada (IRC-IR-828).

Abstract: The 1995 National Building Code of Canada requires that fire alarm signals sound the Temporal-Three (T-3) pattern, as defined by the ISO 8201 i2Acoustics ΠAudible Emergency Evacuation Signalli. This sound pattern has also been required by NFPA 72 since July 1996. It is intended that the T-3 pattern will become the standardized alarm signal heard around the world that will unequivocally mean ieevacuate the building immediatelyly. Although new and refurbished buildings have, for the past 5 years, been equipped with this new signal, no formal public education has taken place to inform building users about the meaning and response expected from them when it sounds. In North America, discussions are ongoing regarding the necessity to develop a public education campaign on the subject of this new evacuation signal, and whether an automatic recorded message should follow the signal to prompt the public to evacuate. As a first step, we need to ascertain if the public already recognizes this sound as an evacuation signal.


Alwast, T. and Leung C.H.C. (1997), “An Adaptive Intelligent Architecture for Fire Detection and Fire Management”, IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Processing Systems, ICIPS ’97, Oct 28-31, Beijing, China, vol. 2, pp. 1113-1117.

Santos-Reyes, J and Beard, A.N. (2001), “A Systematic Approach to Fire Safety Management”, Fire Safety Journal, vol. 36, iss. 6, pp 359-390.

Abstract: A systemic approach has been adopted to construct a fire-safety management system (FSMS). It has been applied to the case of an oil and gas organisation, although the approach is general. Significant changes have taken place in fire safety management in the oil and gas industry over the last few years. However, fire safety still tends to be analysed in isolation, though fire loss is a result of the interaction of the parts that constitute an oil and gas organisation as a whole. Fire loss may be seen as a `systemic' failure, not a result of a single cause. This paper proposes a FSMS for an oil and gas organisation. The approach aims to help to maintain fire risk within an acceptable range in an oil and gas organisation's operations in a coherent way. It is hoped that this approach will lead not only to more effective management of fire safety in an oil and gas organisation, but also to more effective management of safety, health and the environment for any organisation.


Hasofer, A. M. and Odigie, D. O. (2001), “Stochastic modelling for occupant safety in a building fire,” Fire Safety Journal, vol. 36, iss. 3, pp 269-289.

Abstract: The paper presents a stochastic model for the interaction between the spread of untenable conditions and occupant egress. Safety is measured by the expected number of deaths. The building is represented by a network for modelling fire spread and by another network for modelling occupant egress. A major innovation is the introduction of the concept of discrete hazard function. It allows the interaction between the various factors involved in the spread of untenable conditions and occupant egress to be taken into account at the time of their occurrence during simulations. Two small-scale examples are worked out in detail and flowcharts for full-fledged programs are given.


Shields T. J. and Boyce K. E. (2000), “A study of evacuation from large retail stores”, Fire Safety Journal, vol. 35, iss. 1, pp 25-49.

Abstract: This paper presents the results obtained from unannounced evacuations of four Marks and Spencer retail stores. By unannounced it is meant that the public and staff had no prior knowledge of the evacuations and were not informed during the evacuations by voice communication systems. The four retail stores participating in the study were chosen to represent three-storey city centre stores and single-storey out-of-town stores in different locations in the United Kingdom. The evacuations were video taped using in-house closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) orientated to cover pre-determined fields of view and additional portable cameras which were positioned and concealed when the stores were closed for business on the evenings before the evacuations. The evacuating customers were asked to complete a questionnaire by teams of researchers positioned outside, but not impeding, each emergency exit. Data sufficient for occupant characterisation and occupancy profiling for Marks and Spencer stores were obtained. Analysis of the video tapes also yielded information on total evacuation times and pre-movement times for each store. This research provided useful information, which informs the discussion in this paper of many issues relevant to the development of performance based codes, the profession and practice of fire safety engineering.


Frantzich, H (1998), “Risk analysis and fire safety engineering”, Fire Safety Journal, vol. 31, iss. 4, pp 313-329.

Abstract: The paper demonstrates how two quantitative risk analysis (QRA) methods may be used to evaluate the risk to which the occupants of a building may be subjected if a fire breaks out. The methods (standard QRA and extended QRA) differ in terms of how uncertainties in the variables are considered. The extended QRA explicitly considers uncertainty as it is a part of the methodology. The standard QRA has to be complemented with a sensitivity analysis to fully provide insight into the uncertainty inherent in the scenario. Both methods are applied to a calculation example determining the societal risk for a hospital ward. The analyses are performed as Monte Carlo simulations.


Proulx, G. (2001) “As of year 2000, what do we know about occupant behaviour in fire?”, The Technical Basis for Performance Based Fire Regulations, United Engineering Foundation Conference, San Diego, January 7-11, pp. 127-129 NRCC-44479

Abstract : This paper attempts to present the state of knowledge in the field of human behaviour in fire as of the end of the millennium. The rapid growth of the field since the 80s has produced a considerable amount of data. It is argued that there are three dimensions that interplay to explain people’s response during fires: occupant characteristics, building characteristics and fire characteristics. Although a lot of data is still needed on human behaviour in fire, there is already a large pool of information available. It is proposed that researchers in the field should develop theories to organise the body of empirical data obtained and to guide future research.


Proulx, G.; Pineau, J. (1996) “Review of Evacuation Strategies for Occupants with Disabilities” Internal Report, Institute for Research in Construction, National Research Council Canada, 712,  pp. 19. Also available at:

Abstract : In the past decade, there has been a great deal of interest in North America in providing equal accessibility to buildings to all people. For example, a large number of residential, office, institutional and mercantile buildings are now accessible, or being retrofitted for accessibility, to people with different degrees of disability. While accessibility is being promoted, the question of "equal egressibility" is now becoming a subject of concern. Egressibility means that, in case of an emergency, the occupants have the ability to leave a building or to reach an area of safety. It does not mean that every occupant should egress in the same manner or through the same route; rather, it intends to provide an equal level of life safety for everyone.

Liu, Z.G. (2001) “Halon alternative: water mist”, Fire & Safety Magazine, Summer, pp. 37-38, (NRCC-45144). Available at:

Abstract: Recent research at Canada's Institute for Research in Construction (IRC) will have implications for the use of water-mist systems as a replacement for halon in certain circumstances. Following the ban on halon production by the Montreal Protocol, IRC's Fire Risk Management Program, in partnership with the Department of National Defence (DND), has been looking for alternative fire-suppression systems to use as replacements for existing equipment and in future designs. It is of primary importance that the use of such systems does not compromise the firefighting effectiveness currently provided by halon, have negative implications for the environment nor create unacceptable safety risks.


Kim, A.K. (2001) “Improvement of water mist performance with foam additives”, Proceedings of Fire Suppression and Detection Research Application Symposium (Orlando, FL, U.S.A. Feb, 2001), pp. 439-447, (NRCC-44240). Also available at:

Abstract:  Previous studies have shown that water mist system is an effective fire suppression system in an enclosed space. Flame cooling and oxygen displacement by steam are considered to be the dominant mechanisms of extinguishment by water spray and it is known that fine water mists are more efficient than coarser sprinkler sprays at absorbing heat. However, extinguishing open space fire with water mist is not always possible. It depends on many parameters, such as spray momentum and spray angle as well as the distance between the fire and the water mist nozzle, for the water mist system to effectively extinguish open space fire. Recently, National Research Council of Canada (NRC), initiated a study to determine the effectiveness of fine water mist system in extinguishing open space fires using single fluid swirl-type nozzles. In the study, the effectiveness of using small amounts of foam forming additives in the fine water mist was also investigated. Tests were conducted using wood crib fires, and heptane and diesel pool fires. This paper summarizes the results of the experiments that compared the relative importance of different suppression mechanisms of the fine water mist system as well as the effectiveness of using additives in the water mist.

Liu, Z. G.; Kim, A. K.; Carpenter, D. W.; Yen, P. L. (2001), “Portable water mist fire extinguishers as an alternative for Halon 1211”, 2001 Halon Options Technical Working Conference (Albuqurque, U.S.A. Apr, 2001), pp. 435-439, (NRCC-44693). Available at:

Abstract:  Fixed water mist fire suppression systems as an alternative for total-flooding halons have already demonstrated their capabilities in providing protection in machinery spaces, gas turbine enclosures and other applications [1, 2]. However, studies of portable water mist extinguishers are limited. There is one type of commercial portable water mist extinguisher for use on fires associated with wood and paper (Class A) and electrical equipment (Class C) [3]. The capability and limitation of portable water mist fire extinguishers as an alternative for Halon 1211 against flammable liquid fires has not yet been studied. Previous research [4] showed that it was very difficult for water mist to extinguish flammable liquid fires with flash points below normal ambient temperatures, such as n-heptane (C7H16, FP = -4 oC), because fuel temperature cannot be cooled enough to reduce the vapour/air mixture above the surface of the fuel to below its lean flammability limit. In addition, it is also very challenging for water mist to extinguish cooking oil fires, because the hot cooking oil has a strong propensity for re-ignition due to its high burning temperature (approximately 400oC) and low auto-ignition temperature (approximately 330oC) with respect to its burning temperature [5]. Currently there is no commercially-available water mist extinguisher for use on flammable liquid fires.


Liu, Z. G.; Kim, A. K.; Su, J. Z. (2001) “Examination of performance of water mist fire suppression systems under ventilation conditions”, Journal of Fire Protection Engineering, 11, (3), August, pp. 164-193 (NRCC-44676). Available at:

Abstract: This paper describes water mist fire suppression effectiveness under various ventilation conditions. The full-scale fire test series were conducted in an empty enclosure and in a simulated machinery space. Fire scenarios in the tests included small and large pool fires, spray fires and wood crib fires that were placed at different locations within the compartment. The ventilation conditions varied from non-ventilation, natural ventilation to forced ventilation. A single-fluid/high pressure and a twin-fluid/low pressure water mist system were used, respectively, in the tests. The test results showed that water mist suppression effectiveness was dependent on ventilation rates, fire size, type and location in the compartment as well as the characteristics of the water mist system used. During tests, both single- and twin-fluid water mist systems effectively extinguished fires under natural ventilation. Under forced ventilation, however, water mist fire suppression effectiveness was substantially reduced due to the strong mass exchange between the room and its surroundings.

Lougheed, G.D.; McCartney, C.; Taber, B.C. “Sprinklered mercantile fires”, ASHRAE Transactions, 107, (1), pp. 730-743, 2001 (NRCC-44234). Available at:

Abstract: This paper presents results of a project initiated by ASHRAE and the National Research Council of Canada to investigate smoke movement resulting from a sprinklered fire in a communicating space into an adjacent large open area, such as an atrium or retail mall. As part of the joint project, a large-scale test facility was established to investigate smoke flow for sprinklered fires. In this paper, the results of two full-scale fire test series are discussed. In the first series of tests, a propane burner system was used to simulate design fires, which have an initial unsteady stage followed by a fire with a constant heat release rate. A fast t-squared fire was used for the initial fire growth. This fire was allowed to grow to a predetermined heat release rate and subsequently maintained constant. The second series of full-scale tests were conducted using three fire scenarios simulating typical fire load arrangements found in retail stores. The three scenarios used were as follows: paper towels in cartons, clothing stored in boxes, and children's toys.


Lougheed, G.D.; McCartney, C.; Taber, B.C. “Smoke movement for sprinklered fires”, ASHRAE Transactions, 106, (Pt. 1), pp. 605-619, 2000  (NRCC-43138). Also available at:

Abstract: This paper presents the initial results of a project initiated by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the National Research Council of Canada to investigate smoke movement resulting from a sprinklered fire in a communicating space into an adjacent large open area such as a atrium or retail mall. Recent research on the interaction of sprinkler spray with a smoke layer is also reviewed. In addition, information in the literature from full-scale fire tests of mercantile and office occupancies is discussed. As part of the joint project, a large-scale test facility was established to investigate smoke flow for sprinklered fires. This facility is described in the paper. The results of steady-state fire tests using a propane burner system are discussed. These tests indicate that two smoke flow regimes can occur depending on the fire size. For fires with low heat release rates, the smoke temperature was uniform over the height of the compartment opening and was near ambient. Under this condition, the smoke was nonbuoyant and accumulated near the opening. With higher heat release rates, a two-zone air and smoke flow regime resulted. The smoke exited the compartment in the hot upper layer. The fire test results were used to determine approximate limits for the smoke flow regimes. Preliminary tests were conducted to investigate the effectiveness of opposed airflow systems in limiting smoke flow between the test compartment and the adjacent area. Initial results are also provided for this portion of the investigation.


Crampton, G.P. “NRC Report: Advancements and advantages of compressed air foam systems”, Canadian Fire Chief, Spring, pp. 45-46, 1999 (NRCC-42881). Also available at:

Abstract: Fire fighting foam has been in use in the Fire Services for over 75 years. It was originally designed as a surfactant to improve the absorption of water into Class A combustibles such as wood and paper. It quickly found use in fighting flammable liquid spill fires since the foam could float on the surface of the burning fuel and extinguish the fire by sealing off the surface. This separates, the fuel from the flame, absorbs the fuel vapour and prevents thermal feedback to the fuel. As a result, foam concentrates evolved along two lines: AFFF or "Aqueous Film Forming Foams" for Class B or liquid fires and Class A for wildland and structural fires.

Dougal Drysdale (2000) “Learning from Experience: Fire Investigation in Great Britain”, Fire Engineers and Fire Prevention Magazines.


Proulx, G. “Study shows low public recognition of the temporal-three evacuation signal”, Construction Innovation, 6, (4), Fall, pp. 1, 6, 2001. Available at:


Su, J.Z.; Crampton, G.P.; Carpenter, D.W.; McCartney, C.; Leroux, P. “Fire detection and suppression studies at Kemano Village", Sixth Fire Suppression & Detection Research Application Symposium (Tampa, FL, Jan, 2002), pp. 1-12, 2002
Available at:

Abstract: Kemano, British Columbia, was a company town built 50 years ago by Alcan Smelters and Chemicals Ltd. to support its hydroelectric station. When the station became essentially automated, making the town obsolete, an idea was born. The deserted town was donated to British Columbia's fire services for training and research, which has been known as the Kemano Public Safety Initiative (KPSI). In addition to becoming a proving ground for firefighting, abandoned houses filled with donated furniture and props made an ideal, full-scale experimental site. Using this unique opportunity, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) completed two series of fire experiments at the Kemano Village: one to study the response of smoke detectors in houses, and the other to evaluate the performance of a cross-linked-polyethylene (PEX-a) pipe sprinkler system. The sprinkler project is now complete and the results of the experiments are presented in this paper. NRC researchers are still analyzing the experimental data produced from the smoke detector tests. This paper includes an overview of the smoke detector project.


Bénichou, N.; Hadjisophocleous, G.V.; Torvi, D.A.; Vollhoffer, S.R.; Reid, I. (2002) “Hazard analysis of a multi-occupancy building using FIERAsystem,” 4th International Conference on Performance-Based Codes & Fire Safety Design Methods (Melbourne, Australia, Mar, 2002),  pp. 310-321 (NRCC-44984). Available at:

Abstract: With the move to performance/objective-based codes, design tools are needed to demonstrate that proposed designs meet the code’s objectives and requirements. One such tool is FIERAsystem (FIre Evaluation and Risk Assessment system), a computer model that has been developed to evaluate fire protection systems in light industrial buildings. FIERAsystem uses time-dependent deterministic and probabilistic models to evaluate the impact of selected fire scenarios on life, property and business interruption. FIERAsystem has been designed as a tool that can be used to evaluate performance-based fire protection engineering designs. It is intended for use by a wide variety of individuals, including fire protection engineers, building officials, fire service personnel and researchers. To demonstrate the utility of FIERAsystem, case studies were recently performed to evaluate fire protection systems in Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) facilities. This paper presents the procedure used in FIERAsystem to perform a hazard analysis and describes a case study of hazard analysis done for an aircraft hangar. In addition, the paper provides a brief description of the framework for FIERAsystem and its main models.


Proulx, G. (2002) “Evacuation Planning for Occupants with Disability”, Internal
Report, National Research Council Canada, Institute for Research in
Construction, 843  (IRC-IR-843)
. Available at:

Abstract: In 1996, the Institute for Research in Construction (IRC) at NRC published the IRC Internal Report 712 entitled “Review of Evacuation Strategies for Occupants with Disabilities”. This report received substantial interest and numerous requests for copies by managers, educators, researchers and students, as well as members of the general public. In the year 2000, the English report and a French version were placed on NRC’s website and could be downloaded for free. Since the initial literature review was conducted in 1995, it was felt that a new literature search should be conducted and an update of the report published. With the support of the Office of the Fire Marshall of Ontario this task was initiated in early 2002. This actual report contains most of the information initially published in IRC Report 712 with a thorough update of the references, concepts and strategies currently discussed to plan the evacuation of occupants with disabilities in office, residential and public buildings.