Evacuation Study of a Cultural Centre

abstracts1Our team’s recent human behaviour in fire research in collaboration with ARUP will be presented at Interflam in London, UK this July. Two of our multi-disciplinary papers represent an ongoing research project performed over the last three years: “Fire evacuation and strategies for cultural centres.” And “The effects of Linguistic Cues on Evacuation Movement Times”. In this research project we characterized three evacuations that occurred at a Cultural Centre over the course of three years. This project has been a major focus of our group for some time however one which requires significant consideration. We are now introducing the project to the fire community for the first time this summer for preliminary feedback as we continue to advance this very important project in the long term.

abstracts2Interflam is one of the leading fire conferences this year so the venue serves a great location. Part of our outputs are towards a comprehensive database of group based movement and decision making characteristics. We followed this with extensive surveying of linguistic evacuation cues at that centre conducted over several months to interrogate themes we observed. These results are being utilized to inform the development of evacuation modelling in our future work and collaborations.

Presentations of these papers will occur July 2nd, papers will be posted soon!

Stadium Pedestrian Flow Research: Emergency Fire Evacuations

Our team’s human behaviour in Stadia project in collaboration with ARUP (a multi-year NSERC Collaborative Research Development Initiative), will be presented at Interflam in London UK this July 2nd. This student led paper by Danielle Aucoin and Tim Young represents an ongoing research project performed over the last two years. To date we have studied ingress and egress behaviour in four stadiums. We have focused on Tennis, Baseball, Soccer and Football, and our preliminary results that we can share are just appearing now.

Urbanization and Fire Engineering

Toronto's Aura constructio
Toronto’s Aura construction

The last several weeks have been quite exciting spending time in Toronto, Canada. There I have been collaborating with a few companies on fire engineering projects (smoke management, fire protection, design etc.). To my amazement the city is literally turning into a ‘tall building forest’. My last visit to Toronto for this long was in the 1980s. To the left is an image of the 78 floor building called Aura. The Aura is under construction but is meant as a mixed property when finished. There will be both commercial and residential use in this building. For my UK readers this building has more stories than The Shard. The new construction seen in Toronto and many other cities is being attributed naturally to ‘urbanization’. And this appears not to be slowing down. Society in North America (and elsewhere) is readily gathering in urban centers rather than rural in modern days. Space being premium, has people building “up”, and not always “out”. Therefore it is safe to conclude that the Aura will not be the last tall building of this scale in Toronto.

large atriums
Large atrium

After Toronto, I visited Washington DC to take part in the NIST workshop on Fire Resistance of Structures (see details here).

Angled columns and floors
Angled columns and floors

The workshop had fire experts from all over the world in attendance (examples being: Finland, UK, China, USA, Sweden, France, New Zealand and of course Canada). That too was a fantastic learning experience. Discussion by American researchers highlighted the growing importance of urbanization and its relation to fire engineering.  There are many fire engineering issues to consider with the continued trends of urban growth in society (which for space restrictions in large cities means the potential creation of tall buildings).  Large compartments, egress management, smoke management, irregular construction shapes are just a few challenges that come with tall buildings.  Like the city’s growth, we- fire engineers, too are required to grow.

Of course in retrospect traveling to say Venice might have been warmer last month and more of a ‘natural’ vacation, however it would not nearly has been so productive!