The Use Of Pathfinder As An Evacuation Planning Tool: A Case Study In Concert Halls

João E. Almeida, LIACC – Universidade do Porto

Abstract

Evacuation planning as part of fire safety management, is mandatory in Portugal for new and existing buildings. Estimating the egress time is paramount for the development of emergency evacuation plans. For this estimation, fire drills are undertaken. However, carrying out fire drills demands a certain amount of time and financial resources. In addition to that, fire drills might not be realistic for the worst case scenarios, such as having one or more exits blocked due to fires, or when other types of emergency situations are considered such as earthquakes or even terrorist attacks. For these reasons, a robust and validated People Movement (PM) model, such as Pathfinder, can be a very useful tool for emergency evacuation planning. For instance, with Pathfinder, it is possible to evaluate many combinations simulating various situations. In this paper, the two major concert hall theaters in Porto, Portugal, are used as case studies: Casa da Música and Coliseu Porto. Using Pathfinder it was possible to represent different scenarios, estimate egress times in a set of combinations with all or part of the exits available. This paper presents some simulations using Pathfinder and compares their results with the times of real egress video camera footage. Therefore, it was possible to assess the simulation tool, evaluating the results and calibrating with the real data in a variety of situations and occupations.

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