Safe and effective evacuation during a fire or other catastrophic event requires planning, practice, and available options to exit the building. Building occupants with mobility impairments face additional difficulties during fire evacuations, which may limit their evacuation options. This webinar presents a study that was conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop guidance for building designers, facility managers, safety officers and emergency personnel on how occupants, particularly those with mobility impairments, can most effectively evacuate buildings during fire emergencies.
NIST researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with 51 people with mobility impairments located in five major metropolitan areas who work in multistory buildings. They were asked about their everyday mobility at work, their experiences with fire drills or fire emergencies at work, and their opinions about using elevators to leave a building during a fire evacuation. Of particular interest were their responses to a description of occupant evacuation elevators (OEEs), egress systems with the potential to get people with mobility impairments out of a building safely and quickly, without the assistance of others, and without having to leave their mobility devices behind.
The study identified a wide range of issues surrounding the evacuation of occupants with mobility impairments. Key to all of these issues is the need to include those with mobility impairments in the planning and execution of fire evacuations and to facilitate their ability for self-evacuation as much as is practicable.
Understand the variety of experiences, both positive and negative, that occupants with mobility impairments have with fire evacuations.
Identify the evacuation methods that occupants with mobility impairments may use in response to a fire emergency, along with the reported benefits and concerns with each.
Describe the concept of Occupant Evacuation Elevators (OEEs).
Name the key factors that improve the fire evacuation experience of occupants with mobility impairments.
Presenters: Kathryn Butler is a Physicist in the Fire Research Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She has studied a wide range of fire-related topics, including emergency communication, respirator fit, fire spread in wildland-urban interface fires, and fire behavior of materials. Erica Kuligowski is the Group Leader of the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fire Group in the Fire Research Division at NIST, with a background in fire protection engineering and sociology. Her research interests include evacuation and response behavior, people movement and behavioral data collection and analysis from fires and other emergencies, emergency communications, and evacuation modeling. Susanne Furman is a cognitive scientist in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Visualization and Usability Group, where she works on and investigates user's mental models in cybersecurity and usability of biometric devices for the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Furman has a PhD in applied experimental psychology human factors from George Mason University.
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