This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Development and Representation of Occupant Performance in Building Evacuation Modeling




Muhdi, Rani

Type of Degree



Industrial and Systems Engineering


Occupant characteristics are considered important features incorporated into most evacuation models. The relative scarcity of evacuation experiments in the literature, contributes to some extent to the continuous challenge of occupant data representation in computer evacuation models. Such a challenge is even more significant when modeling occupant behavior and performance responses to fire conditions since deteriorating conditions influence the occupants’ adoption of new responses. The primary objective of this research was to bridge the gap between the development and representation of occupant data pertaining to crawling, one of the more important responses to evacuation in fire and smoke conditions. This research investigated occupant crawling speed compared to walking, and the effect of occupant characteristics; gender and body composition (BMI), on crawling in evacuation. The study also examined the impact of route design on evacuation times for crawling movements by comparing evacuation time for a straight route to an indirect route design, and the influence of occupant characteristics on evacuation time for occupants crawling such an indirect route. After that, the current study looked into the relationship between crowd density and occupant crawling movement, by examining the impact of occupant configuration (number of occupants) and exit access width on crowd walking and crawling speeds on a flat surface. The last part of the research focused on the application of evolutionary computation techniques in building designs for walking and crawling egress, which has been evaluated by evolving the location and number of exits required to minimize evacuation time. The results suggest a significant difference between normal walking and normal crawling speeds. Normal walking is performed at a faster rate than normal crawling. Further, gender and body composition significantly impact individual crawling speed as well as individual evacuation time when crawling an indirect route, since they are unique characteristics to the individual. Exit access width is significant to crowd crawling speed, whereas occupant configuration plays less of a factor. The study demonstrates a significant difference in crawling speeds at different exit access widths. The relationship between crowd crawling speed and density is best described by a quadratic regression model. Finally, evolutionary computation techniques can be used to find optimal building designs for walking and crawling egress. The designs are evaluated by evolving the best exit configuration(s) to minimize total evacuation time. However, the reliability of these techniques depends on the accuracy of the evacuation models utilized. The techniques have the potential to be implemented in more complex designs.