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Online Seminar - Understanding Human Behavior in Fire (2022)

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Course Description
The prediction of human behavior during a fire emergency is one of the most challenging areas of fire protection engineering. Yet, understanding and considering human factors is essential to designing effective evacuation systems, ensuring safety during a fire and related emergency events.

The first module of this course will present the many types of characteristics that may influence occupant performance, reaction and movement process in an emergency situation. It will include a discussion on the Protective Action Decision Model (PADM) and how it serves to inform our understanding of the flow of information to occupants via cues from the fire, building or people in a fire situation and the resultant decision-making processes that influence their protective action responses during the fire incident. Discussions will also address exposure to toxicants, irritants, heat and visibility loss in a fire and the potential impacts, including additive effects, on the human body at varying degrees of exposure.

The second module will focus on modeling human behavior in fire and will include a discussion on the development and selection of occupant behavioral scenarios. The module will also discuss the many considerations that affect the choice of a particular calculation approach or model, such as project data needed, model input data needed, complexity of scenario(s), detail of output needed, and need to assess the impact of behavioral assumptions.

The third module will discuss fire situation management and will include discussions on enhancing human response to emergency notification and messaging and managing the movement of occupants during fire emergencies.

Learning Objectives
At the conclusion of this seminar, the participant will be able to:

  1. Understand the many types of characteristics that may influence occupant performance, reaction, and movement process in an emergency situation.
  2. Understand the theory and process of individuals or groups of occupants taking protective actions in the context of the building fire emergency timeline.
  3. Understand how fire effluents can lead to incapacitation of people subject to the hazards of a fire.
  4. Obtain guidance to assist in developing occupant behavioral scenarios as part of a performance-based design
  5. Understand the basic concepts of occupant movement and how to estimate the time for occupants to move to a place of safety or refuge.
  6. Obtain understanding and guidance for the selection of one of the various methods of performing egress calculations.
  7. Develop an understanding of the various sources of uncertainty in human behavior analysis.
  8. Understand how people process emergency warning information and examine factors that may inhibit the process.
  9. Consider the numerous factors that play roles in the use of evacuation, relocation, and protect-in-place strategies when deciding how building occupants can best be safeguarded during fire emergencies

Course Delivery:
Dates: March 7 - 11, 2022
Days: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Time: 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM EST (UTC -5)

All live instructor-led sessions are recorded and provided to the attendees in the course. If you are unable to watch the live sessions, you will be able to go back and watch the recorded sessions for up to 1 month after the last session. Once you complete all of the course content, survey, and quiz, we will provide you with your PDH certificate.

Prof. Steve Gwynne, PhD

Professional Development Credit:



Target Audience:
Engineers, Architects, Code Officials/AHJs, Public Educators

Reference only - SFPE Guide to Human Behavior in Fire, 2nd Edition (2018)

Members: $399.00
Non-Members: $524.00

Questions? Contact

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