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This paper describes a decision model for managing the movement of building occupants during fire emergencies. Currently available guidance from standard practice, egress modeling, codes and the re-search literature, is too general to provide much help to persons charged with the responsibility of where groups of occupants should be located given a fire scenario. The occupant movement decision model described in the paper uses three basic yes–no questions to divide building occupants into groups during a fire emergency. For any particular group, the decision model recommends one of two basic actions:(1) people remain where they are already located; or, (2) people relocate to a safer area in or outside the building, including the means by which they should travel to the new recommended location. The model specifies informational inputs that are used to decide which strategies are best used for which occupant groups—both in planning the emergency and for maintaining the situation awareness needed to adapt the plan when situations evolve in unexpected ways. By clearly determining which occupants should use which strategies, the model yields more effectively tailored strategies than those commonly prescribed for building-wide strategies of full and phased building evacuations, partial building evacuations, in-building relocations, and sheltering-in-place.


This article was originally published in Fire Safety Journal, available at

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (



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