Forensic virtual reality: Investigating individual behavior in the MGM Grand fire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The forensic investigation of human behavior in fires can benefit from a first-hand perspective of what happened during the fire. Complementing the on-site investigation and the witnesses’ accounts with a virtual reality replication of the real fire, forensic investigators could gather valuable data from having non-victims experiencing it. This paper aims to introduce and develop the forensic virtual reality method as a tool to provide a better understanding of the behavior of the building occupants. To assess the method, a virtual reality scenario based on the conditions in a hotel room during the MGM Grand fire in 1980 was created, and 55 naïve participants were exposed to it. Their behavior was later compared to that of the survivors of the real fire. The results show that the virtual environment made approximately 50% of the participants feel urgency due to the emergency and act on it. A comparison to the data from the MGM Grand fire confirmed that real life behavior can be observed in the virtual environment, although the frequencies of actions performed were lower in the virtual reality experiments.


External organisations
  • National Fire Protection Association
  • Canterbury University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Human Computer Interaction


  • Egress, Evacuation, Fire, Forensic, Hotel fire, Human behavior, Safety, Virtual reality
Original languageEnglish
Article number102861
JournalFire Safety Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch