A survey of occupant response towards an audible fire alarm

Ling Tim Wong, Nai Kong Fong, W. H. Sui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


It is important to understand the occupant behavioural response in fire emergency in high-rise buildings so that proper decisions for a fire safety management plan could be made. In this study, behavioural responses of building occupants to an audible fire alarm cue in high-rise buildings in Hong Kong were investigated by a survey of 327 building occupants. They were divided into two groups, where Group 1 had experienced a building fire before while Group 2 had not. The results showed that occupant experience of fire incidents might influence their perception of a fire alarm cue. Group 1 respondents would likely recognize an audible fire alarm cue as a true fire alarm and give immediate response, while the Group 2 respondents would treat the cue as a false alarm or a fire alarm test. Group 2 respondents would investigate the situation if only the fire alarm sustained for a few minutes. Regarding the evacuation routes, respondents tended to select a staircase for emergency evacuation. The choice of route did not depend on the floor on which the evacuation of an occupant started. Apart from the nearest staircase, some occupants would choose a familiar staircase. The results of this study would be a useful source of reference for evacuation plan development of high-rise buildings by taking human behaviour into account.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-258
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal for Housing Science and Its Applications
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Fire alarm
  • High-rise
  • Residential buildings
  • Response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Marketing


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