Explore key findings from live evacuation testing research conducted by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) for the Home Office, shedding light on efficient evacuation strategies and their implications for the fire industry.

07 February 2024

In a collaborative effort between the Home Office and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), live evacuation testing research has been conducted to assess the efficiency of evacuation strategies in high-rise residential buildings (HRRBs). This comprehensive study, summarised by the Home Office, provides valuable insights into various aspects of evacuation procedures, aiding stakeholders within the fire and rescue service sector.

The research was framed around five critical questions:

1. Which strategies are likely to lead to the fastest evacuation of a high-rise residential building?

2. To what extent do each of the evacuation strategies lead to congestion in stairwells?

3. What impact do evacuees with impairments have on evacuations?

4. What further factors could affect live evacuations from high-rise residential buildings?

5. How accurately can Pathfinder modelling software simulate the live evacuation testing?


Key findings:

1. Fastest evacuation strategies:

The study revealed that employing two staircases facilitated faster evacuations compared to single-staircase strategies. Notably, strategies incorporating an Evacuation Alert System (EAS) outperformed door-knocking methods in expediting evacuations.

2. Stairwell congestion:

Findings indicated that while EAS signals initiated quicker movements, they also led to increased congestion within stairwells. Interestingly, congestion didn't necessarily correlate with slower evacuation times.

3. Impact of evacuee impairments:

Evacuees with impairments, particularly those using evacuation chairs, influenced the pace of evacuations, especially for individuals starting on higher floors. The study highlighted the need for tailored evacuation strategies for individuals with specific needs.

4. Factors affecting evacuations:

Variables such as floor location and presence of obstacles impacted evacuation speeds, with notable differences observed between lower and upper floors. The study also examined the influence of firefighter movements on evacuation dynamics.

5. Simulation accuracy:

Pathfinder modelling software demonstrated reasonable accuracy in predicting outcomes for various strategies, with some limitations noted for strategies involving two staircases.


This research provides invaluable insights into optimising evacuation procedures in HRRBs. By understanding the nuances of different evacuation strategies and their implications, fire safety professionals can enhance preparedness and response protocols, ultimately ensuring the safety of residents. You can read the full summary report here.

View the SOURCE here.

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