Technical systems, occupant behavior both play roles in fire, life safety planning

Many facility managers focus on the technical systems involved in fire and life safety preparation, but understanding how building occupants are likely to behave in an emergency, and taking steps to ensure that their actions help, rather than hinder, everyone's safety also is critical.

By Healthcare Facilities Today
June 13, 2013

When a discussion turns to fire and life safety preparation, many facility managers focus on the technical systems, such as sprinklers and alarms, in place to combat such emergencies. To be sure, these are critical; they can limit the danger and allow occupants to get to safety. At the same time, understanding how building occupants are likely to behave in an emergency, and taking steps to ensure that their actions help — rather than hinder — everyone's safety also is critical.

"Once you understand this, you can take better strides to protect them," says Chris Jelenewicz, engineering program manager with the Society of Fire Protection Engineers.

People's actions can play a larger role than does the technology in place, says Ronnie Gibson, vice president and chief engineer with insurer FM Global. "When you look at a significant event after the fact, there's always some sort of human factor in play."

For instance, many people instinctively want to exit a building the same way they came in, Jelenewicz says. In an emergency, that could be dangerous.

Fortunately, facility managers can take steps to ensure that occupants know what to do in an emergency, and then follow through, Gibson says. A recent article in Building Operating Management magazine covers some of these steps. 

Read the article

 




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