MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Fred Mowrer and Chris Pascual
In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Masters of Science in Fire Protection Engineering, a prescriptive and performance-based analysis was performed on a building housing the Center for the Arts. The building was constructed in 1947 in California as an automobile dealership and repair shop under the provisions of the then-controlling Uniform Building Code. It subsequently underwent several occupancy changes and has since served as a beauty school, gymnastics center, and currently as a performing and visual arts center. Prescriptive analyses were conducted based primarily upon the provisions of the 2010 California Building and Fire Codes, and the 2009 edition of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code. Where required, other NFPA codes such as the 2010 editions of NFPA 13, Automatic Sprinkler Systems Handbook and NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code were also referenced. The overall fire protection system was divided into subsystems and then examined. Subsystems included those involving safe egress, fire detection and notification, water-based suppression and structural fire protection. Results are provided with respect to each. The performance based analyses focused primarily upon the ability of occupants to safely escape the building after the onset of various fire events. The computer fire model, “Fire Dynamics Simulator”, was used to estimate the available safe egress times of occupants under various fire scenarios. The required times needed for safe egress were determined based upon calculation methods set forth in the Society of Fire Protection Engineering Handbook. Available and required safe egress times were compared for each of the different fire scenarios. Where deficiencies in fire protection systems were noted in the existing building layout and arrangements, recommendations for improvements are provided herein. It should be noted that these recommendations are considered a best effort and are presumed technically valid. Even so, any changes or upgrades made based upon these recommendations must still be reviewed and approved by a licensed professional fire protection engineer and the local authority having jurisdiction.