Elise Miller-Hooks

Publications: Conference 11

“Phased Evacuation in High Rise Buildings: Technical and Regulatory Issues”

Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Building Law and Fire Safety, Frankfurt, Germany.
Brannigan, V. and E. Miller-Hooks (2007)

Many tall buildings around the world have been designed and built using a plan of “phased evacuation” to secure regulatory approval. These buildings often have inadequate exits for “general” evacuation. After 9/11 and several other high rise fires NIST and other groups have called for a reevaluation of the use of phased evacuation. Numerous discontinuities can be identified, particularly where it is unclear who bears primary responsibility for safety of a building.

Regulatory approval is often based on mathematical simulations. But these simulations routinely embed political decisions in the simulations and regulators, without sufficient understanding of the inner workings of the simulations may accept buildings based on faulty premises. In addition confusion over definitions and the numerous complex interfaces between the regulators and the modelers creates the opportunity for disastrous misunderstanding. Designers and operators must clearly take responsibility for the assumptions used in the models and not try to substitute regulatory compliance for a actual safety. Similarly, regulators must have the autonomy, expertise, flexibility and resources to fully understand the model’s limitations.


Elise Miller-Hooks, Ph.D.
Bill & Eleanor Hazel Chair in Infrastructure Engineering

Phone: 703.993.1685
Email: miller@gmu.edu

Office: 4614 Nguyen Engineering Building

Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering
George Mason University
4400 University Drive, MS 6C1
Fairfax, VA 22030



Volgenau School of Engineering
George Mason University