MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
This report has two objectives: 1. To confirm that the Fire and Life Safety Systems of a project building satisfy applicable prescriptive code requirements, and 2. To evaluate how the Fire and Life Safety Systems perform when challenged by a credible fire scenario.
The three‐story, 31,430 sq. ft. project building is the regional office for an oil and gas company operating in Western Canada. The building includes an atrium which extends from the ground level, main floor to the third floor.
The Fire and Life Safety Systems within the scope of this study, include:
Fire Detection and Alarms Systems (FDAS) Egress Components Water‐Based Fire Protection Systems Structural Fire Protections Systems Prescriptive Analysis Analysis of the FDAS confirmed that the building is equipped with modern Fire Alarm System (FAS), code compliant, UL listed detection devices and notification appliances. The single stage FAS is augmented by a Remote Supervising Station. Notification appliances include audible and visual alarms which have proven effective in building response exercises.
The building egress elements were found to be designed and installed in compliance with the Life Safety Code. However, it was found that the building occupants have installed items which have eroded the building life safety features. Corridor width has been reduced to less than that required by the LSC by the installation of shelving and other items. In addition, combustible materials are being stored in the east exit stairway enclosure which may present a hazard to building occupants.
The building water supply was found to meet the design demand. The building owner has implemented effective programs for ongoing inspection, testing and maintenance the water‐based fire protection system. Furthermore, processes are in place to track fire protection system impairment and ensure the system is returned to a fully operational status in a timely manner.
The occupancy classification of the project building was found to be Group B (Business) which requires Type II‐A construction. It was confirmed that the building meets the International Building Code requirements for Type II‐A construction.
Performance Based Analysis
The performance of the building Fire and Life Safety Systems when challenged by a design fire was assessed. The objective was to confirm that occupants could exit the building before they are exposed to untenable environmental conditions.
Two credible fire scenarios are evaluated; a trash bag fire in the east exit stairway enclosure and a chair fire located in the third floor, open‐office area. The design fires are believed to be realistic with respect to their initial location, fire growth rate and smoke generation.
For the trash bag fire, it was concluded that the building water‐based fire protection and fire detection and alarm systems work effectively when challenged. The Available Safe Egress Time (ASET) was found to be greater than the Required Safe Egress Time (RSET) and occupants could be expected to safely evacuate from the building.
In contrast, it was found that the heat release rate from the chair fire may be insufficient to activate detection systems before untenable smoke conditions develop. The ASET was found to be less than the RSET and occupants may not be able to safely evacuate from the building. The chair fire was proposed to be ignited by the unauthorized use of an electric space heater.
The following recommendations are made to ensure the building life safety systems are maintained and occupants can safety exit the building in the event of a fire. 1. Continue to support the fire detection and water‐based fire protection system through an ongoing ITM program executed by certified technicians. 2. Implement a third‐party audit program to provide assurance that the fire detection and water‐ based fire protection system ITM program continues to meet NFPA requirements. 3. Remove items such as shelving from the second and third floor corridors. These items were not in the building initial design and have reduced the corridor width to less than that required by the LSC. 4. Remove combustible janitorial supplies from the east exit stairway enclosure. These items present a hazard to building occupants should a fire occur. 5. Review the building policy which prohibits the use of portable, electric space heaters at the next company safety meeting.