Case Study 1
Evacuation From an Office Building Fire
The ability to evacuate a large building in an emergency requires
knowledge about appropriate building design, and also about effective
procedures for rapid exit, including training of occupants. In order
to obtain adequate information about evacuation of large buildings,
it is important that researchers learn from actual experiences.
Researchers designed a project to learn from survivors of a catastrophic
fire in a multi-story office building. In particular, the researchers
wanted to know 1) how occupants perceived and interpreted the situation,
and how they made decisions during the emergency, and 2) the extent
to which building design and emergency procedures influenced how
people responded. They also wanted to document the conditions, such
as flame, smoke and behaviour of people in various locations in
A questionnaire approach was used. The companies that had occupied
offices in the building were asked to contact their employees who
had escaped from the buildings, inviting them to respond directly
to the research team.
The questionnaire dealt with issues such as awareness of escape
procedures, leadership demonstrated by those designated to act in
emergencies, abilities to find exits and use stairs, and the overall
comportment of people in the emergency. The questionnaire was sent
by mail to the individuals who had escaped from the building. Post-trauma
counselling was offered to those who participated in the research.
- Under what circumstances would the TCPS apply to this
- Which guiding ethical principles might apply to this research?
- How might the perspective of the subject be taken into
account in the conduct of the research