MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
The building was found to be generally compliant with the requirements set forth in the codes and standards, any discrepancies are addressed within the report in their respective sections. The prescriptive-based analysis was performed using the appropriate NFPA standards, the Life Safety Code (LSC) and the International Building Code (IBC).
The building is three storied and has an overall gross floor area of 101,579 sq ft. It is classified as a mixed occupancy use with a calculated total occupant load of 2,866 occupants and is being evaluated as a Type II-B structure as defined in the IBC. It is protected throughout by an automatic fire sprinkler system and a fire alarm system. The installed fire protection and life safety (egress) systems in this building are evaluated according to NFPA 13, NFPA 72, and NFPA 101.
Hydraulic calculations on the sprinkler system show that the water supply is sufficient for the sprinkler system’s remote area. The standpipes in the stairwells appear to be maintained and are available and accessible to emergency responders in the event of an emergency.
The fire alarm system provides adequate coverage for a fully-sprinklered facility. Initiating devices placed along the means of egress and at each building exit. Smoke detectors are provided for elevator control functions, releasing of smoke control barriers and releasing automatic closing doors. Duct smoke detectors are placed to shutdown air handling units upon detection of smoke in air supply plenums.
The atrium on the north end of the building connects all three floors. As such, the atrium, requires a smoke control system. The smoke control system was designed in accordance with the smoke management calculations in NFPA 92, Standard for Smoke Control Systems – 2015 edition. A beam smoke detector is located in the atrium for control of three smoke exhaust fans and fire vent latch release. This smoke control system was further analyzed in the performance- based design analysis and found to be insufficient for the scenarios chosen.
Based off the results of this building evaluation and walk-through of the building, the following deficiencies were noted and recommendations proposed:
1) The building has two stairwells that are provided 2-hour fire rated walls, large landings, and labeled as “Area of Refuge”. These areas are not provided with two-way communication as required by code. Since the buildings is fully sprinklered and areas of refuge are not required, it’s recommended that the university remove the signs labeling the stairwells as areas of refuge. 2) The third-floor banquet hall is capable of being configured for a large variety of events. It was noted that textile draperies were regularly mounted on the walls and ceilings for aesthetic purposes. A university representative mentioned that the practice was deemed allowable by the local jurisdiction and that the draperies were treated with fire-retardant chemicals. The chemicals, listing or test method used on these draperies was not able to be determined at the time of the walk-through. However, it is recommended that the exit markings are not covered when using the decorative draperies.
3) Overflow storage issues in the banquet halls storage room impede on the path of egress from the penthouse mechanical room. It is recommended that the proper housekeeping is performed, and the path kept clear.
For performance-based analysis purposes, notification of building occupants was assumed to occur upon audible or visual signals from the building fire alarm system based of detection time of the fire alarm system. Evacuation modeling estimated the time to evacuate a fully populated building was approximately 180 seconds. Occupant characteristics and pre-movement time were addressed when doing occupant evacuation simulations for the chosen fire scenarios. The results of occupant evacuation and fire simulations were compared to ensure that tenability performance criteria within the building was maintained and that the available safe egress time (ASET) is greater than the required safe egress time (RSET).
This comparison showed that the ASET of 503 seconds only marginally exceeded the RSET of 500 seconds for scenario #2. Scenario #1 included a scotch pine Christmas tree at the base of the atrium which overpowered the smoke control system in 77 seconds. This time is well before the required egress time of 500 seconds shown in the simulation. From these results, the University was deemed to not provide an adequate level of protection for building occupants in the event of a fire scenario.
The following recommendations are proposed based off the results: 1) Discontinue the use of Christmas tree at the base of the atrium for decoration during the holidays. 2) Add secondary smoke detection devices in the atrium out coves for earlier detection and notification in the event a fire was to initiate from the out cove. 3) Consider replacing exhaust fans with larger capacity fans.