MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
This report is a focused review and discussion of the life safety and fire protection design of Cal Poly Building 180: The Warren J. Baker Center for Science in partial fulfillment for the requirements of a Master’s of Science degree in Fire Protection Engineering at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The report focuses on discussion areas specific to the curriculum of the Cal Poly Fire Protection Master’s program, including analysis of egress, structural fire protection, detection, alarm and automatic protection designs in comparison to current and effective codes and standards. This report also includes a, performance based, tenability analysis for the central atrium and the building egress using computer-modeling software (FDS, PyroSim and Pathfinder) Comparison to current codes shows that there are some building features that do not meet current code, including an inadequate number of exit doors for assembly use areas, inadequate floor egress capacity, and excessive dead end and common path travel distance distances. Rooms 304 and 306 on the third level are considered assembly use, since they are expected to have more than 50 occupants, but are only provided with a single exit instead of the required two. Rooms 304 and 306, also have a common path length of 67.5 ft., which exceeds the maximum common path limits allowed for assembly use. Occupant loading on the third level is estimated to be 683 occupants, however, the calculated egress capacity of this floor, per the LSC, is 627 occupants. Lastly, a 57.8 ft. long dead end corridor is located on the second level adjacent Room 239 and 260, which exceed these the 50-ft. allowable from the IBC and LSC. In the performance based approach section, a design fire was selected and modeled, using FDS and PyroSim. The available safe egress time (ASET) was determined based on tenability limits suggested from the SFPE handbook. The ASET is then compared with the predicted, required safe egress time (RSET), which was developed using available data and modeling from Pathfinder. Using data from the SFPE handbook and the Pathfinder model, the RSET time is estimated at 12 minutes. The FDS model indicated that tenability is lost on the 6th level at approximately 101 seconds (1.7 minutes), due to lack of visibility. The model also indicated that excessive heat flux is expected on the egress path from exit stair 3, as early as 180 seconds (3 minutes) into the simulation. Tenability limits for air temperature and asphyxiant gases were not exceeded during the 12-minute FDS simulation. To meet current codes, it is recommended that occupants on the third level are limited to 627 persons, and occupants in room 304 and 306 are limited to less than 50 persons. By limiting occupants, adequate egress capacity is provided, and rooms 304 and 306 are reclassified as business use. Business use areas, have less stringent common path and exit number requirements which are satisfied with existing construction. A new wall or closet is recommended in the dead-end corridor to effectively reduce the distance to acceptable levels. To provide tenability for the central atrium, a mechanical exhaust system is recommended to provide adequate visibility, 6ft. feet above the egress paths. Additionally, less combustible, or noncombustible furnishing should be used to ensure that acceptable levels of heat flux are maintained for the duration of egress. The use of non-combustible or less combustible furnishing could also help to maintain acceptable levels of visibility utilizing the existing smoke control system. Modeling should be completed to determine the most effective and economical approach.