MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
The Permian Oil Plaza (POP) is a four story building located in Midland, TX. This facility was designed to provide over 200,000 square feet of office space to approximately 500 employees. The building was constructed of unprotected non-combustible (Type II-B) building materials and was completed in late 2015. An assessment of the building’s fire and life safety systems was performed to ensure these systems were designed and installed in a manner that meets, or exceeds, the intent of pertinent building codes and fire safety standards. This assessment included a prescriptive based analysis, as well as a performance-based analysis. The prescriptive based analysis revealed that the POP’s structural design, fire alarm and fire suppression systems meet respective codes requirements. While the majority of the building’s egress system was found to be in compliance, violations related to egress capacity and door encroachment were identified. Due to the presence of multiple assembly areas on the third floor, the third floor has a significantly higher total occupant load then the other floors. The total occupant load of the third floor exceeds the floor’s total egress capacity. This violates Section 1006.3 of the International Building Code. In addition, Section 126.96.36.199.3 of the Life Safety Code sets limitations on how far a door leaf can project into a path of egress. A door encroachment issue was observed in the North Building’s south exit passageway. When opened, the stairwell’s door in this passageway significantly limits the clear width for occupants entering the exit passageway. The performance-based analysis included three test scenarios revolving around a Christmas tree fire in the building’s lobby/ atrium. Specific performance criteria related to visibility, temperature, heat flux and carbon monoxide were set to determine if the fire could create conditions that would adversely affect an occupant’s ability to evacuate safely. The Available Safe Egress Time (ASET) and Required Safe Egress Time (RSET) were different for each test as they were based on parameters unique to each scenario. The minimum ASET for Test Scenario #1, #2 and #3 were calculated to be 245 seconds, 83 seconds and 500 seconds, respectively. No performance criteria was exceed for Test Scenario #1. In Test Scenario #2, the RSET for visibility and temperature exceeded the ASET. Only the RSET for visibility was exceeded in Test Scenario #3. In conclusion, the RSET exceeded the ASET in two of the three performance tests indicating that all not all occupants would be able to evacuate safety. Based on the aforementioned findings, the following recommendations have been provided: (1) Convert one of the assembly spaces on the third floor to office cubicles. Converting even the smallest conference room (780 ft2) would reduce the floor’s overall occupant load enough to make the floor’s existing egress capacity compliant, (2) Reconfigure door arrangement on first floor of north building to eliminate door encroachment issue, and (3) Revise the POP’s Fire Safety Management Plan (see Appendix 11) to include a restriction prohibiting the erection of cut Christmas Trees.