Georges Guigay - Verkis Consulting Engineers
In October 2014, Iceland will host the European TeamGym championships. The competition will be held in the Athletics and Exhibition Hall of the Laugardalshöll sports arena in Reykjavík. Verkís Consulting Engineers undertook a project concerning the safe evacuation of the public from the competition arena in case of fire. This is a major concern for the organizers and the local fire authority as the arena is primarily intended for athletics training or local competition without stands.
For this competition, the Icelandic Gymnastics Federation wanted to install temporary stands with a seating capacity exceeding 4200 spectators. This configuration requires a completely new fire assessment of the building in terms of evacuation. The challenging factor is that the ceiling is rather low and people standing on the highest rows might thus be quickly submitted to smoke, requiring prompt and efficient evacuation. In addition, the probability of panic is high in such densely crowded stands. It is therefore essential to anticipate the causes and consequences of panic movements, and take adequate measures such as the design of alternative evacuation routes.
The smoke spread and time to critical conditions in the event of a 10 MW medium growth fire are simulated using Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS6). The computational mesh was composed of 7.200.000 cells, and calculations are carried using 16 processors on a cluster computer. The evacuation of occupants is simulated in 3 dimensions using the Pathfinder software, testing several occupation rates and evacuation routes. The combination of Pathfinder and FDS6 is shown to be very efficient to determine the maximum number of occupants and a new configuration of the stands, ensuring an acceptable safety for the spectators.