PRE-SCHOOL AND SCHOOL CHILDREN BUILDING EVACUATION The assessment of safe children and adolescent evacuation requires understanding of principle distinctions between an adult and a child. The children of 5-6 are characterized by improved coordination of movements; associated moves of arms and legs are enhanced for more than 70% of children, pace is getting more regular. By the age of 7, 100% of children feature associated moves of arms and legs, an increased length of pace at a reduced tempo, an increased velocity of walking for a long distance. Thus, the moves of children aged 7 and older differ only in terms of quantity, whereas the moves of younger children are evidently having distinctive features as compared to the moves of an adult.
The results presented in table 1 show a higher total evacuation time for the CCAA 2 building. It is connected with the higher capacity of the building to a less extent, and to a larger extent – with the availability of the warning system. The fact is that the maximum distance from the remotest room with children does not exceed 150m, whereas the densities of human flows on evacuation paths nearly along the entire length never exceeded 1 person/m2 (in separate cases these reached 2 persons/m2), which enabled their motion with the minimum velocity of 75 -100 m/min. The reason is that the movement process itself did not contribute significantly to the total evacuation time.
At that, such a high rate of the evacuation starting point in CCAA is due to the following. According to the experiment scenario, a child having discovered the fire is running towards the exit, and notifies the security service officer at the exit of the building. After the receipt of the information about the fire, the officer evacuated the closest persons, and remained idle for 1.45 minutes, until the experiment organizers informed him about the fire and the necessity of warning people inside the building for the second time. Thereafter, the officer notified the director, who, in turn, started arranging the general evacuation of people from the building. The delay of fire warning by the security service officer, as well as the necessity of notifying each room (due to the general warning system inoperability) played a significant role in the delay of the fire warning.
The data in table 1 demonstrate that 89.5% to 90.5% of this period make the evacuation start delay time. People spend this time to evaluate the situation, gather, and take decision of leaving the premises, and only about 10% of time is falling on proceeding from the place of people’s stay to the exit.
Note 1. All buildings were equipped with an active warning system.
Note 2. Typical kindergarten constitutes a two-storied building with the maximum floor area 4000 m2.
Questionnaire survey confirmed partially inadequate actions of the personnel. For example, it was established that 33.3% of pupils gathered without their instructor and 73.3% of pupils left the premises without the instructor's help. Thus, the conclusion was drawn that, in the course of evacuation, the pedagogical staff pays insufficient attention to arrangement of children evacuation, being unable to totally control the process.
The lack of the experience with the personnel in extreme situations (fire cases) is clearly confirmed by the remark of one of the instructors: "If there were more children and if... not for the rumor that there will be evacuation training, as a matter of fact, I would stay idle." We may conclude that the preparation level was not sufficient, as the same instructor declared in the questionnaire her repeated fire precautions training.
Evacuation starting point However, it could be assumed, that the time value at the evacuation starting point for a separate child would be small enough. To check the hypothesis, a series of additional tests was carried out. The analysis of video records of experimental evacuations and available operation information about the victims of fire, demonstrated that the children and adolescents evacuation procedure is determined by actions of personnel, that is why the time of the evacuation starting point was measured from the starting point of the evacuation arrangement by the instructor until the evacuation from the premises of the children's location. The measure of time till the evacuation from the premises contradicts the existing approach – until the motion starting point. However, within the premises with initial location of people, no distinct phase of children's motion could be traced, since after the start of their motion heading for exit, children used to stop and wait for additional directions from the staff, and their movement itself started beyond the room.
As a result of the experiments, it was established that the starting point of the evacuation from the kindergarten premises in the optimum case (without clothing) makes 4.2 to 18.2 sec with the mean value of ca. 8 sec. A significant time consumption for evacuation preparation is based on the following. After the "Fire" vocal signal, children did not move from their places with no attempts of self-reliant evacuation from their room till the intervention of their educators (who took the children by the hand and helped them out). There are several explanations hereto. The principal reason lies in psychological peculiarities of children: a specific brain area responsible for behavior, including taking reasonable decisions, develops in the age of 12 to 24 years. Besides, the fire safety training of children in such kind of buildings is not sufficient.
It bears mentioning, in case of erroneous decision of dressing children the time of evacuation start increases significantly – up to 4.5 minutes, which, in turn, depends on the number of educators in a group (there were two in the experiment).
In exceptional cases, the children evacuation scenario with blankets flung on is possible, since it enables avoiding exposure of children to cold with possibility of getting sick, requiring relatively insignificant time losses.
A comparative assessment of the teachers’ and students’ replies to the question about the degree of awareness of the school’s fire protection system proves that number of negative replies increases with the age of respondents. E.g. 28% of students of 4th and 5th grades gave negative answers (i.e. not aware of the building’s fire safety systems) while 100% of teachers had no idea of the fire safety system! 1. Based on the survey findings and taking into account the reliability of answers it can be stated that the student training in fire behaviour wasn’t satisfactorily organized. This is proved by the circumstance that 82% of respondents did not expect any external assistance and took self-rescuing actions. The application of the said method allowed to establish that at the fire detection stage (fire outbreak or smoke) the first and the most common action is a fire warning. However, the people who discovered the fire tended to inform the management of the incident instead of activating the fire warning system and call the fire department, although it is a well-known fact that a 1-minute delay of fire notification leads to a ten-fold increase of the fire area. The intention to notify the management of the emergency is connected with behaviour patterns exercised under normal circumstances – all problems need to be reported to the management, thus, shifting the decision-making responsibility to other people.
The cause of a children’s fire-related mortality, mentioned in Table 1 was a complete or insufficient staff preparedness for actions in fire situation. For instance, during the fire in the Moscow Psychoneurologic Boarding-school (№7 Table 5) the children themselves quenched the fire. During the fire in a boarding school of Mecca (№6 Table 5) the staff failed to timely open the doors of emergency fire escapes; during the fire in a boarding-school of Sydybal (№8 Table 5) unqualified actions of the staff caused the panic among the children, and that eventually led to the failure to organize people.
The official fire statistics in the Russian Federation shows that as many as 200386 fires took place in 2008 with 15165 persons reported dead including 584 children…
Nonetheless, fires in day care facilities and schools in exceptional cases lead to human fatalities. Usually, in emergency it is possible to organize the evacuation of people. The regularities of human travel along the portions of evacuation routes are described in the following chapter.
3. Travel parameters of children and teenagers The research of rules of human flow travel in school buildings with regard to the age composition to establish an impact of travel regularities on the spatial arrangement of school buildings under normal conditions and development of recommendations for standardization of communication routes was made in the Russian Federation at the end of 1970s. Altogether 1618 measurements of human flow travel parameters were made in school buildings of 7 cities of the USSR [11-12]. aJ - is an empirical constant for each type of pathway;
It is unlikely to obtain similar data at the evacuation from the school buildings in case of emergency. It is possible to approximate them to a reliable ascertainment with specially organized experiments which are dangerous and difficult to implement with children. A more suitable way to conduct such experiments could be the involvement of a senior-aged group of schoolchildren. The world practice research study has not witnessed such experiments in school buildings. Nevertheless, it is known that unique experimental investigations of movement of the human flows were held under the conditions which simulate the emergency . The primary group taking part in these experiments were the students of the fire high school aged 18 to 20, i.e. recent schoolchildren of the senior age group and even their peers. The movement rate of the human traffic of this composition will be described with the formula . The values of the coefficients are indicated in the table 7. The results of the experiments are indicated in the diagrams at the Figure 5.
The results of the investigation of movement of young people aged 18-20 during the evacuation
According to the results of the investigations some recommendations were elaborated to ensure a smooth flow of human traffic as well as suggestions as to the regulation of parameters for communication routes in the school buildings with children aged from 6 to 17 years.
In 2008 – 2009 there were conducted some experiments aimed to study the movement of pre-school children 3 to 6 years old. The assessment of motion parameters of the human traffic was carried out using video recordings of human traffic flow with a pre-shot analysis grid sized 1m x 1m placed at a child's height. Up to date there are 356 completed measurements of traffic flow parameters. It was established that the movement along the horizontal path in general is subject to previously identified consistent pattern  of motion for an "increased activity" motion category.
Nevertheless, the experiments identified one specific characteristic of motion: the velocity of motion on the staircase is almost twice as low as compared to a horizontal movement. Moreover, in the range of densities under consideration the velocity of motion up and down the stairs is similar. The following conclusion can be drawn from the above: the reason of deaths of children and teenagers in the buildings where they are present in massive amounts is a poor preparation of the personnel working in the buildings with massive amount of children for the measures to be taken in case of fire. It is proved by the analysis of the actual fires with massive losses of people, long (up to 10 min) general evacuation of children from the building, during which up to 90% of the time is spent on the evacuation organization with a relatively short period for starting the evacuation (7.96 sec. on average) of the students from the premises. At that, the majority of children are evacuated without the teacher’s assistance. The reason for that is the non-fulfilment of the measures to be taken at fire as required by the legislation (up to 66.9% from the total number of the respondents). 9. Shurin E. T., Apakov A. V. Mobile groups sorting and individual movement in pedestrian flow as a background for "mixed" pedestrian flow modelling. Problems of Fire Safety in Construction. Proceedings of Scientific-Practical Conference. Moscow, Academy of State Fire Service, pp. 36-42, 2001/ 20. Kholshevnikov V.V., Shields T. J., Boyce, K.E., Samoshin, D.A. An Investigation into Staff Behaviour in Unannounced Evacuation of Retail Stores - Implication for Training and Fire Safety Engineering. Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium "Fire Safety Science”, Beijing, China, 18-23 Sept. 2005, pp.519-530.
21. Shields T. J., Boyce, K.E., Samoshin, D.A. Recent developments in pedestrian flow theory and research in Russia. Fire Safety Journal, vol. 43 (2008), pp. 108–118.
22. Kopylov V.A. The Study of People’ Motion Parameters Under Forced Egress Situations. Ph. D. Thesis, Moscow Civil Engineering Institute, 1974.