Reviewing Italian Fire Safety Codes for the analysis of road tunnel evacuations: Advantages and limitations of using evacuation models

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The severe consequences of road tunnel fires have led researchers to investigate the best safety design methodology. Italy has the main tunnel network in Europe and consequently the importance of a definition of the optimal design standard is a key issue. This paper reviews the design of the means of egress from tunnels within the Italian Codes (analysing both prescriptive and performance-based approaches). The paper presents an in depth analysis of how Italian Codes tackle the problems related to tunnel evacuation processes in the case of the Performance-Based Design approach (i.e. the calculation of the RSET – Required Safe Egress Time). This need comes from the fact that the analysis of the RSET has not been object of the same amount of studies as the ASET – Available Safe Egress Time due to the implicit challenging nature of RSET. A set of evacuation models among the most used by practitioners (FDS+Evac, STEPS, Simulex, Pathfinder) has been reviewed with the scope of testing their applicability within Italian Fire legislation for tunnel safety. Among the problems affecting the reliability of model results, two fundamental points have been analysed: (1) the ability of the models to reproduce the fire conditions affecting the evacuation process; (2) the lack of data regarding Human Behaviour and the way it can affect the reliability of the results. Solutions to take into account the model limitations have been suggested. Possible future Research developments as well as improvements within the evacuation models and the existing Legislation are also provided.


External organisations
  • Polytechnic University of Bari
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Civil Engineering
  • Building Technologies


  • Emergency evacuation, Tunnel safety, Evacuation modelling, Italian Fire Safety Code, Performance-Based Design
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-36
JournalSafety Science
Issue numberFebruary
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch