Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. M.Z. Naser

Committee Member

Dr. Pamela Murray-Tuite

Committee Member

Dr. Brandon Ross

Committee Member

Dr. Kristina Randall


People with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups in building fires. Despite this, they have traditionally been overlooked by fire evacuation researchers. This is perhaps the most alarming for the group with Intellectual Disability when given their present statistics for fire involvement, injuries, and death. Annually, people with mental disabilities are involved in 1700 home fires, resulting in 39 fatalities and 122 injuries per 1000 fires. Additionally, 40% of these fires were started intentionally by people with mental disabilities. When combined with their high fire risk, the lack of evacuation research focused on people with Intellectual Disability shows a clear need to explore the research area. As a result, this dissertation aims to bridge the research gap by exploring the evacuation characteristics (pre-evacuation times, movement times, exit choice, etc.) of college students with Intellectual Disability. This has been investigated through three primary methods in the following parts. In Part I, a real-time evacuation drill is conducted with 18 students with Intellectual Disability and 148 students with no known disabilities in a 6-story C-shaped residential apartment building on Clemson University’s campus. Evacuation characteristics are analyzed for the students of interest as well as the group without disabilities. In Part II, a 20-question post-drill qualitative survey is conducted, and responses from the students with disabilities are recorded and examined. The survey aims to supplement the real-time drill by gathering students’ perceptions and understanding of the event. Finally, in Part III, simulation case studies are conducted using the evacuation software Pathfinder. The case studies aim to analyze the software's accuracy for modelling non-traditional evacuees and explore their safety when a theoretical fire scenario is introduced. Finally, limitations, challenges, and suggestions for future research are presented at the end of the work.

Author ORCID Identifier




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