Emergency door capacity: influence of door width, population composition and stress level

W. Daamen, S. P. Hoogendoorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


For the new version of the Dutch design guidelines for buildings, a threshold value for the capacity of emergency doors needs to be set. Innovative large-scale laboratory experiments have been performed to investigate the capacity of emergency doors during evacuation conditions. This paper focuses in particular on the relation between capacity and the independent variables doorway width, population composition, stress level and presence of an open door. It turned out that only the experiment with the widest doorway (275 cm) resulted in a capacity lower than the capacity from the current design guidelines (2.25 P/m/s). The average observed capacities are for all widths lowest for the lowest stress level and highest for the highest stress level. The population with a greater part of children has the highest capacity (on average 3.31 P/m/s). This is mainly due to the smaller physical size of children compared to adults and elderly, which makes it possible that more children can pass a door at the same time than adults. The lowest capacity (on average 2.02 P/m/s) is found for the experiment with 5% disabled participants. The presence of a door opened in the escape direction in an angle of 90° for a doorway of 85 cm results in a 20% capacity reduction compared to the reference experiment. The open door does not physically narrow the doorway, but it leads to interactions between participants reducing their speed and the corresponding outflow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-71
Number of pages17
JournalFire Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Capacity of emergency doors
  • Door width
  • Laboratory experiments
  • Population
  • Stress level

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