Fire Engineering - Research Areas - Civil Engineering - Universityof Canterbury

Recent areas of research

Human behaviour


Research into human behaviour in fire has included looking at crowd movement in sports stadiums and the effect of pre-movement on evacuation. Work in this area often links with the research we carry out on computer evacuation models.

Key publications

  • Spearpoint M J, Xiang X. Calculating evacuation times from lecture theatre type rooms using a network model , Fire Safety Science, (10):599-612, 2011
  • Spearpoint, M.J. (2008) Fire emergencies and people. New Zealand Science Teacher, 117, 16-17.
  • Hoskin K, Spearpoint M J. Crowd characteristics and egress at stadia. Proc. 3rd International Conference on Human Behaviour in Fire, pp. 367-376. Belfast, 1-3 Sept. 2004.
  • Spearpoint M J. The effect of pre-movement on evacuation times in a simulation model. Journal of Fire Protection Engineering, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 33-53. 2003.


The option to use lifts (elevators) for the evacuation of high-rise buildings is seen to be a viable part of an overall egress strategy. We have conducted some work in this area looking at this issue.

Key publications

  • Heyes E, Spearpoint M J. Lifts for evacuation - Human behaviour considerations. Proc. 4th International Conference on Human Behaviour in Fire, Interscience Communications Ltd, 13-15 July 2009, Cambridge, UK. 2009.