Movement Through Fire Smoke – Developing A Technical Specification (TS) For Performance-Based Fire Safety Design

Daniel Nilsson - University of Canterbuy, NZ


In performance-based fire safety design, movement through fire smoke sometimes needs to be considered. One example is a single-bore road tunnel, in which some motorists will likely need to evacuate through fire smoke on their way to safety. Fire smoke has long been known to reduce movement speed of evacuees, and this impact needs to be considered in performance- based fire safety design.

Since the pioneering experiments by Jin, much data has been collected on movement through smoke. This data can be used to derive correlations between movement speed and smoke characteristics, which can then be used in performance-based fire safety design. The problem is that there is no standardized approach and, as a result, different correlations are used in design.

Past research suggests that people slow down due to reduced visibility, but also that irritant species play an important role. It is also probable that occupant characteristics and the built environment influence movement speed in fire smoke. All of these factors should be included in a standardized approach.

The proposed paper will discuss the development of an ISO technical specification (TS) on the impact of fire smoke on movement speed. The aim is to develop a TS that (1) contains correlations between movement speed and selected smoke characteristics, i.e., visibility and irritant species concentration, and (2) provides recommendations on how to consider characteristics of occupants and the built environment. The objective of the proposed TS is to provide guidance to designers on how to represent movement through fire smoke in performance-based fire safety design.


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