MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
A Fire Protection & Life Safety Analysis was conducted in order to fulfill the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Fire Protection Engineering. The Fire Protection & Life Safety Analysis consisted of a prescriptive and performance-based analysis of the Eric Rood Administration Center (Rood Center).
The prescriptive based analysis was conducted to determine if the Rood Center adhered to the applicable codes and standards. It utilized the 2013 California Building and Fire Codes and the 2012 Life Safety Code (NFPA 101). Other NFPA codes that were referenced included the 2013 edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, the 2013 edition of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Signaling Code, and the 2015 edition of NFPA 2001, Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing systems.
The prescriptive based analysis examined four portions of the building’s fire protection system: Egress Analysis & Design, Fire Detection & Alarm Notification, Water-based Fire Suppression, and Structural Fire Protection
Deficiencies were found in the building’s fire detection and notification systems, as well as the inspection, testing, and maintenance of said systems. The building’s primary fire alarm system has photoelectric smoke detectors installed in only portions of the building. The bulk of the detectors are installed in the exit corridors with typically only one detector per department. While the number of smoke detectors in most departments is lacking, some departments don’t have any at all. The first floor has only 23 smoke detectors, while the second floor has only 16. Based on coverage-area-per-detector calculations alone, the first floor should have a minimum of 56 detectors and the second floor should have a minimum of 58. One of the departments in the building that does have smoke detectors, has only local detectors (they are not connected to the building’s fire alarm control panel (FACP)). Two of the fire scenarios in the performance based analysis indicated the fires were detected within 10 seconds of ignition. In the other two fire scenarios, the fires were not detected until 73 seconds and 107 seconds into the simulations respectively. Examining the building’s notification systems revealed several issues as well. Three of the notification devices types currently in use in the building are listed in the FACP’s manual as not compatible. Similar to the detection system, there are not enough notification appliances (audio or visual) throughout the building to ensure proper coverage. Inspections and tests are not done to confirm proper audible and/or visual levels in the building during an active alarm.
The performance based analysis examined how the building’s fire protection system would react to a fire, and whether occupants would have enough time to escape to safety. A computational fluid dynamics modeling program, Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), was used to estimate the available safe egress times (ASET) for four different fire scenarios throughout the building. Those values were then compared with the required safe egress times (RSET) calculated in the prescriptive based analysis for each fire scenario.
The original RSET values were calculated for the departments affected by the fire scenarios. The fire models were analyzed and the ASET values were determined when conditions either first became untenable, or when all the occupants had exited the building; whichever came first. The conditions in the building became untenable before people could evacuate the building in all four fire scenarios (RSET > ASET). In some situations, conditions became untenable seconds after the fire alarm was activated, and several minutes before evacuations were complete.
The performance based analysis determine that the arrangement of the dead end hallway off the second floor lobby was especially problematic as it could cause the occupants to be trapped in the event of a fire. Two fire scenarios were examined, one with the fire in the dead end hallway, and another with the fire in the main lobby. In both cases, the conditions in the building became untenable long before the occupants would have been able to escape the hallway, let alone the building.