Although there is a growing international movement toward the use of engineered or performance‐based fire safety design, current practice is dominated by prescriptive‐based design. In prescriptive‐based fire safety design, only those requirements prescribed by appropriate building regulations, installation standards, or approved documents tend to be applied. Because these requirements typically include fire protection measures, such as fire detection and signaling systems, automatic sprinkler systems, fire compartmentation, and emergency egress systems, there is often an assumption that occupants, employees, and users of a facility will be safe should a fire occur. However, there are a variety of factors that could affect the actual fire safety of a facility that comply with the appropriate regulations. Fuel type, loading, configuration, and location can change, leading to an increase in fire risk. Occupants may not see, hear or understand fire alarm signals as fire alarm signals. Fire detection and signaling systems, fire suppression systems, or smoke management systems may not be 100 percent functional at all times. Fortunately, many of these factors can be controlled for, if they are understood and addressed, within a fire safety management plan. To assist with such planning, this paper discusses various human behavior and response issues that may affect life safety during a fire or emergency, and provides suggestions for integrating these issues into a fire safety management plan.
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