Slow response to fire

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02 Aug 2010 - 07:26482
Slow response to fire

I'm currently looking for fire incidents where it has been documented that people saw the actual flames of the fire (i.e., did not just smell smoke, saw others running, etc.), however, did not initiate evacuation or any other action that could be expected. Do any of you guys recall having read about this type of behaviour? I would really appretiate any tips on where this information could be found.

I do not know if I am posting at the right place. If not, I guess a moderator could move my post to a more suitable area :). It was nice to meet some of you at the INTERFLAM 2010, hope to see you again in the future.



02 Aug 2010 - 08:20483
Hi Karl,

I guess you a basically looking for survivor accounts of actual evacuation incidences specifically related to occupant pre-evacuation/pre-movement/response times (see this paper for a nice discussion of the definitions There are a number of official reports of actual evacuation incidence on Evacmod though I know it can be hard to get people to accurately recount how long it took them to perform tasks.

Here are a few reference which 'might' be of interest:

"The UK 9/11 evacuation study: Analysis of survivors’ recognition and response phase in WTC1 "

"An analysis of the recognition and response behaviours of evacuees of WTC 1 on 9/11"

"Report to the Secretary of State by the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser on the emerging issues arising from the fatal fire at Lakanal House, Camberwell on 3 July 2009"
(this was an apartment block fire where a number of families were located but many of whom stayed in their apartments despite seeing flames/smoke spread up the building)

"Occupants' behaviour in response to the high-rise apartments fire in Hiroshima City"

I guess looking at tower block apartment fires could be a good place to start as occupants might be more reluctant to evacuate their own home considering it has all their personal belongings etc.

hope this helps.



02 Aug 2010 - 09:06484
Thank you Michael for the fast response. I am familiar with some of the articles you have mentioned, but I will look into the other ones.

02 Aug 2010 - 09:20485
Maybe the studies produced by J.L. Bryan and P.G. Wood would be good to read as well.

Professor J.L. Bryan of the University of Maryland in the USA studied survivors from 400 different fires; in which 53% of survivors from fires admitted to travelling through smoke.

P.G. Wood of the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in the United Kingdom reported similar findings.

Their work is well-known and available; they are also mentioned in the SFPE handbook as well.

kind regards,


02 Aug 2010 - 09:23486
This link might be helpful though:



02 Aug 2010 - 11:50487
No problem.

I recently added the following literature to the Evacmod archive which provides a nice summary of the work Rodrigo mentioned:

"Review Of Statistical Studies By Wood And Bryan Of Human Behaviour In Fire"



Last edited by Michael Kinsey (02 Aug 2010 - 13:44)
10 Sep 2010 - 10:12509
Dear friends,

I want to share with you this video I found on Youtube about a case of slow response of a truck driver to a tunnel fire (It regards the accident that occurred in the Slovenian tunnel Trojane).

The first driver starts to evacuate immediately. Another driver remains in his vehicle for more than 4 minutes (the fire is just in front of him and it is very large!).


Dr Enrico Ronchi

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