RSET/ASET, a flawed concept for fire safety assessment

Fire and Materials (Impact Factor: 1.21). 11/2010; 34(7):341 - 355. DOI: 10.1002/fam.1025

ABSTRACT For the evaluation of occupant safety in the case of building fires, the Required Safe Egress Time/Available Safe Egress Time (RSET/ASET) concept has become widespread and is now commonly used in the fire safety engineering profession. It has also become commonly used by smoke detector (smoke alarm) manufacturers in assessing whether a particular detector technology is adequate. It is shown in this paper that the concept is intrinsically flawed and its use promotes the diminishment of fire safety available to building occupants. The concept innately ignores the wide variations in capabilities and physical condition of persons involved in fire. It is based on implicitly assuming that, after a brief period where they assess the situation and mobilize themselves, occupants will proceed to the best exit in a robotic manner. This assumption completely fails to recognize that there are very few fires, especially in residential occupancies, where occupants perished or were seriously injured who had endeavored to exit in this robotic manner. Instead, in the vast majority of fire death and serious injury cases, the occupants did not move in such a manner and their evacuation took longer than anticipated on the basis of robotic movement. There is a wide variety of reasons for this, and these are well known in the profession. The concept also ignores that there can be a wide variation in fire scenarios. The same building and the same fire protection features can be evaluated, but both RSET and ASET can change drastically, depending on the scenario used. The consequence of using the RSET/ASET concept for fire safety engineering or product design purposes is that fire deaths and injuries are permitted to occur, which are preventable. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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