Hi, my name is Erica Kuligowski and I'm a Fire Protection Engineer and Sociologist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Today, I'd like to be talking with you about the effects of fires on people. And I have four modules for you. Through these four modules, I'll be describing the basic idea of human behavior in fires. Including, what human behavior is and what human behavior is not in a building fire. I'll then be identifying the types of behaviors that are performed in fires, giving examples of each through Incidents, Case Studies, and Experiments. And finally I'll end these four modules with examples or applications of these ideas to improve safety in buildings. Through any of modules, through these four modules, I will be giving a short discussion paper that will be assigned. And I'll be talking about the topic of the presentation, I'll be talking about the topic of the paper at the end of the discussion today. So let's start with the first module. What is Human Behavior in Fire? So there are three elements that are involved in a building fire event. The first is the Fire Environment. And what I mean by that is the smoke and the flames produced by the fire, kind of the conditions produced by the fire event, and these can also be toxic products as well. The second element is the Building. And so that includes the structure in which people are housed and where the fire event occurs. And the third element of a building fire event are the people. And today, I'd like to talk about the behavior of people. And what I mean by that is their behavior as they interact with the fire environment, the building, and other people in the building during the fire. Before I can get into more about human behavior in fire, I'd like to talk to you about the timeline of a building evacuation. Now I have up on the screen here, kind of as time moves forward the first point of a building evacuation is the fire ignition itself. And this is when the fire starts, and this can be anywhere in the building. The second phase here I have is Pre-alarm Time. And this is the time between ignition, and when there is notification of the fire to the building occupants. And this can be anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, to even 15 or 20 minutes, if it takes a while to actually detect that a fire has occurred. And then you can see the dotted line here, that is the Alarm Time. Now, what I mean by that is, any way in which the building occupants are notified that a fire is occurring, or some building event is occurring. And from ignition to the movement period here, is what we're calling Pre-evacuation. And that is the time from which the building occupants are made aware that something might not be right, that something is wrong. Up until the point where they start purposive movement, or purposive kind of physical activity to get to safety. And then that kind of third period in a building evacuation timeline is the Movement period. And that is the time in which people move to safety, and that is purposive movement to safety. They've made the decision to get to a safe place they have made some activities in which to prepare to get there and they've started to move. And what I'd like to say with the slide is that activities or human behavior, human action occurs in each one of these periods of a building evacuation. Even in pre-alarm time, the building staff perhaps might be taking actions to figure out more about what's going on and whether or not a fire is occurring and they might be taking actions to help notify the occupants. During the pre-evacuation period, when the occupants begin to think there might be something wrong, there are actions that they are taking in that period as well. They could be seeking more information about what's going on after they here an alarm. They might also be taking actions to prepare to move to safety. Like gathering their belongings, getting dressed if they're in a hotel building or if they're in their house. They might be trying to help others get to safety. They might be alerting others. So there is a lot of actions kinda going on in this period here during the pre-evacuation period to kind of get ready to move to safety. And then in the movement period there are other types of actions that humans are taking. They might be choosing a route and moving towards safety, maybe a route that they're familiar with or a route that they're not as familiar with. They might be resting if it's taking a long time to get to safety. Or they might be changing their route if they've encountered untenable fire conditions. So, throughout this entire evacuation timeline, people are behaving. They're taking actions. They're moving in certain directions. They're making certain decisions. And this is all based upon what cues they're getting throughout the pre-evacuation period, and the movement period. What information they're getting. They're constantly making decisions. And all of this takes time. So the next thing I'd like to talk about is any time someone takes an action in a fire emergency, it is not just random. The action that they take is based upon a process of decision making. And here's my person, and they have certain physical abilities, they have certain experience, they have certain knowledge, so they might have certain roles in the building. And once a fire occurs, in order to respond, and one response might be evacuate, one response might be to continue working or to continue their previous activity. Whatever their response is, it is the result of a process of decision making. And so, they must first perceive or receive cues or information. So if they don't receive any ques from the fire, there's no response to take, they don't even know that something is going on. So they must first receive some information that something has occurred. If they see smoke, they might actually smell smoke or see it, if an alarm goes off they need to hear it. Or if they're hearing impaired, they need to feel it through tactile means. But that's not enough to respond. They must actually pay attention to the cues or information that they receive. Sometimes in stressful situations in a fire, we might receive a lot of information, but we don't have the cognitive capabilities or capacity to even pay attention to it. So after these two phases of this process are complete, it's still not enough to have the individual respond to the fire. They must also comprehend the cues or information that they receive. So, for instance, if they smell smoke, or smell something burning, they might pay attention to it. Oh, that smells like something is burning, maybe it's toast. They start to kinda try to comprehend the cues that they receive. And it might be something that, it might be that they think it's burning toast, they might think it's something more serious than that. But they actually have to go through the process of trying to understand what it is that they're receiving. What they're hearing, smelling, feeling or hearing. The last couple stages of the process, before an actual action can be taken in a fire emergency. Is they must believe, or confirm that the information is valid, and they must personalize the risk. So let's take a fire alarm, for example. If you hear it, you've received it. You can pay attention to it, if you've actually said, wait a minute, is that a fire alarm? You start to pay attention to it. When you actually comprehend the information, you say, well I actually do think that sounds like a fire alarm to me. But the next couple stages is, do I believe that an actual event is occurring that I need to pay attention to? And do I feel that I'm personally at risk. And it isn't until we go through the entire process that we actually get a response from an individual. And this process takes time, because there might be gaps in it. We might misunderstand the information. We might not believe it. It might take a little while to actually confirm that there's a risk. So this is a process that takes time. And again, this process needs to happen before any action, before any and every action, in a building fire evacuation. So, just a few other pieces or tidbits about that process. If, throughout that process at any time. If someone is uncertain about any stage in that process, that usually leads to information seeking action. So if I didn't really understand the sound that I'm hearing, or if I didn't really know what smell I was smelling, if that's smoke, or if that's just burning toast. Normally, an individual in a fire emergency will take time and seek additional information. And again, that process is a feedback loop. So anytime you receive more additional information, that process begins again. And sometimes that process can be very quick if the queue is very clear. If it is so crystal clear what is going on, that process can be very quick and someone can make a decision. Or it can be lengthy, and there's a lot of kind of feedback and information seeking, and more cues are received. And so, over and over again the cyclical process can be very lengthy. This process can be messy also, if an individual is not provided with very much information, they start to fill in the gaps with their own biases. And one bias that is fairly common in fire emergencies is to feel that we are in fact not at risk. And so there might be a misperception, sorry, misconception, in fire emergencies that a lot of people automatically feel at risk. And that is actually not the case. The opposite is normally the case. And that even though we might receive a fire alarm, hearing it or feeling it. Our first response is actually to feel like there's nothing going on. That we're really not at risk and that we're okay if we sit at our desk or remain in our room. It isn't until we receive more intense cues, or more credible information, that people actually start to act. And when there is gaps in our information, we actually start to fill those gaps in with our previous experiences in disasters as well. So, for example, if we've experienced a lot of fire alarms in the past, that actually didn't, that a consequence from those alarms was not a fire. So what we consider to be maybe to be a false alarm, then we're more likely to believe that a false alarm is occurring at this point in time as well. And if we've been trained significantly in the dangers of fire, and how to respond to fire. We can fill those gaps in in efficient ways. And say I know that this is a fire alarm. I know I need to evacuate immediately and we can start to do so. So there could be experience in our disaster that might hinder our progress in a fire. And there could be experience in our training in fires that can actually help us achieve a more efficient fire response. Or we can continue to seek information if we continue to receive little information or confusing information or conflicting information. And if we find inaccurate information that is very unhelpful as well because we can act upon that. If we believe it to be true, even though it's inaccurate. It might actually cause a response that's not safe and have people act in ways that might put them in danger. So as a result, what people do in fires is a lot of things that could actually lead them into danger, or could inhibit their safe movement. One of those could be, we might ignore cues. And that's not through any fault of our own. If we're doing something that takes a lot of our mental capacity, we might not be able to pay attention. If we're very stressed for example, we might be narrowing in on something and not being able to pay attention to the other cues that are going on. And that's why it's so important to provide cues that are sery clear, that are intense in a way that really grab our attention. So that we act in ways that are safe. We can also misinterpret cues and misunderstand instructions. And a lot of that has to do with the way that the instructions and the cues are provided to us. We might not understand what a fire alarm means. If we speak one language and we're in a building where the fire information is given in another language. We're not gonna understand that. And so that makes it difficult for us to take safe actions because we've kind of stopped ourselves in the process. We're at the comprehending cues stage and we don't understand and it's difficult for us to move forward and take safe action. And because of that we could perform a variety of different actions that are not related to evacuation safety. For instance we could be searching for information, or milling about, that means talking with other people about what's going on. And that could be taking time away from us finding safe refuge, reaching safety sooner. We could also be searching for others or rescuing others. We could be performing non-protective activities. Such as continuing to work or continuing to perform our activities. And not reaching a point of safety sooner. Or we could have started our movement to safety. And then return to our offices, or to our apartments. Because we really don't believe that an event is taking place. So a lot of these things, because we're not provided with the right information, or accurate information, or we're provided with conflicting information. We've seen in previous fire events that there are things that people do that do not lead them to safety and could potentially put them into danger. There's also additional kind of behavioral facts that I'd like to talk about before I move on to the next module. Remember that person that I had kind of standing in the middle of the screen that was going through all those stages of a decision making process? That person can have differing physical or cognitive capabilities in any building in the world. All right, we can not assume that our population, everyone moves the same, everyone has the same abilities, both physical or cognitive. That's just not gonna be the case. And some of the numbers we've been seeing in the United States is that we can assume that about 6% of our population in our buildings have some sort of disability. And so we have to take that into account when we're thinking about how to Make sure that our population reaches safety from a building fire. And we're also not just one big group of people in a building that will evacuate all together, all at the same time. Instead we're kind of, we can think about a building population as a kind of different social groupings, so there might be families that stay together in an evacuation. There might be co-worker who know each other, who stay together when they evacuate. Or make sure that they find each other first, before they evacuate. And so instead of looking at the population as one, a group of strangers, that's not right either. Or a group who all know each other and you all evacuate together, we should be looking at a building population as a bunch of different social groups. And trying to understand how those groups might interact during a building fire. Instead of just thinking too as people who are risk averse, which is what I talked about in the middle of this module, we also have some people who may perform high risk behaviors. They might do it intentionally, or unintentionally. Intentionally is, we've seen examples when there have been significant amounts of smoke in front of them in a route, and they walk through it anyway. And so that is that if people feel at risk and there is no other way to evacuate, we have seen that people will walk through a significant amount of smoke. Or unintentionally, if we don't give people the right information they could find themselves moving through some very dangerous places in the building. And they do it because they don't know any other way. The next kind of key behavioral fact is that people are likely to move to the familiar. And this is a really important part of for fire protection engineers to understand, and for also the public to understand. We can't just know the one main route in a building, because that is what's familiar to us. Normally, we know the route in which we've entered the building, and for some buildings that's about all we know. And our buildings are designed for people to use all of the routes available equally. And so what we found in some of our building fire events is that the main exit gets clogged, or congested because that's the route that people use, because that's the one that they know. So, it's really important for us to think about the other routes that are available to people. That we should also, when we walk into a building, understand what are the other routes available to us. And if we're getting to a point we're designing an evacuation procedure for a building, we have to understand that people are most likely to use the routes that are most familiar. And find other ways to make sure that in a fire event people will find other routes that are not so familiar to them. Another thing that people do is move to people who are familiar to them. And so, like I talked about with the social groupings a couple bullets earlier. People are likely to find the other people in their social groups before they evacuate, and evacuate together with them. And the last key behavioral fact is that people are likely to respond to authority figures and the information provided to them by that authority figure. And so what I'm saying here is that role matters, and so there was a nationwide survey done awhile back asking Americans who was their credible source of information in the United States. And we should know that there is no one credible source for all people in our population in the United States. Some buildings may find someone else credible, like their building manager. Or they might find the mayor of their city more credible than people in another building, or another city. But the one kind of main credible source, the source that got the highest percentage in this nationwide survey was firefighters. So, we do know that there's this kind of an understanding in our country that firefighters do provide credible information to us. And if in a building fire we are likely to listen to them. But it's important also for us to know when we are looking at a building, when we're trying to make a building safer. If we're designing emergency procedures for a building, who is the credible source, or who are the credible sources for our building population? Who will they listen to? Who do they find credible? And then provide that person with information or a way for the person to give information in a fire event, so that people listen and reach safety sooner. So, as a summary to this module, what I talked about was that a building fire event is made up of three different things, the environment, the building, and the people. And human behavior occurs throughout the entire building evacuation timeline, all phases. From ignition to the pre-alarm phase, to the pre-evacuation phase when people are trying to figure what's going on, when they're trying to decide if an evacuation decision is necessary. When they're trying to prepare for evacuation, and kind of move forward. Maybe help others throughout that period, and then even in the movement phase we're constantly receiving additional cues. We're making informed or uninformed decisions based upon those cues, and then were making performing actions, like taking certain routes. Maybe resting a little while, maybe changing routes throughout the way until we reach safety. And then the third bullet is that behavior during fires is the result of a process. It is stages that people need to go through before they actually act, and that's kind of receiving, and paying attention, and comprehending. And then getting to that place where asking ourselves, is this credible information, and do I feel at risk enough that I need to act? And throughout that, that process can be broken in different ways that I've talked about, and that kind of leads us to do more information seeking which takes a lot of time. So, if we can give people accurate information about what's going on, that actually helps them to go through those stages sooner and reach a point where they respond in a safer more efficient way. And so that's the end of module one. Thank you for listening, and I'll go onto module two soon.