MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
A Fire and Life Safety Analysis of the Bonderson Engineering Projects Center, (BEPC) Building 197 on the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) Campus is performed. Both prescriptive and performance based methods and metrics are utilized to evaluate the facility with respect to current fire and building standards and codes. Prescriptive fire protection features and systems analyzed include: building construction type and design, structural fire protection features and requirements, occupancy classification and egress analysis, fire detection, alarm, and communication systems, and fire suppression systems The prescriptive based design requirements largely met the code and installation requirements with the following deficiencies discovered during the analysis: Sprinkler system branch-lines are missing end of line restraints, sprinkler system upright sprinklers are installed too far down from deck in several areas, sprinkler system upright sprinklers are obstructed by mechanical process piping in first floor hallway, fire alarm system horns in Machine Shop and Wood Shop do not produce 15 dBA above ambient conditions (may have AHJ exemption), the single-leaf door for Conference Room 104 does not swing in the direction of egress travel. A performance-based analysis of (BEPC) is performed. The analysis involves the evaluation of three design fire scenarios pursuant to NFPA 101 Chapter 5; these scenarios are modeled using the computer programs Pyrosim, FDS, and Pathfinder. The tenability results of the computer fire models are compared to established tenability thresholds to determine the available safe egress time (ASET) for each scenario. This time is compared to the required safe egress time (RSET) defined by the Pathfinder software egress model of the building with its full occupant load. The three scenarios considered include: a fire in the entry lobby / atrium by way of a spill of acetonitrile, a fire in an HDPE trash container in the machine shop ignited by hot work, and finally, ignition of two pallets of miscellaneous computer items being stored in the high bay Projects Integration area. Of the three performance-based scenarios tested, only one scenario, the machine shop trash container fire, passed the final RSET vs ASET test with an acceptable factor of safety. BEPC largely meets or exceeds all of the prescriptive requirements for NFPA 101 and the California Building code for egress and structural systems. It also meets requirements and installation codes for fire sprinklers and alarms with the exception of the deficiencies previously determined. It is recommended that the fire sprinkler deficiencies for end of line restraints, obstructions to spray pattern development and the deflector distances be rectified via retroactive repairs to the systems involved. For fire alarms it is recommended that the AHJ exemption for audible notification in the shops be verified. From a performance based standpoint, the two scenarios that failed the RSET vs ASET could be avoided through the strict application and continued enforcement of a fire safety management plan. Such a plan could reduce both the probability and impact of fires in (BEPC). A proposed plan is included in Appendix A.