MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
This report analyzes the different fire protection systems and features of the Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo campus. This building is used for lectures, laboratories, study spaces, faculty spaces, and storage spaces for the students and faculty at the Cal Poly campus. Typically, there are science and math courses taught within this building. The building is a 6-story structure, that is not classified as a high-rise due to the location of fire department access and has a five-story atrium located on levels 2 through 6. There are two different types of analysis performed within this report for the systems present, prescriptive and performance based.
The prescriptive analysis is based on engineering standards and regulations for the systems in place which include: means of egress system, fire suppression system, fire alarm and detection system, smoke evacuation system, and the structural fire protection. The means of egress system has deficiencies with regards to required egress width on the fourth and fifth level. This deficiency may be due to the design basis at the time of construction and the engineering standard used to analyze the means of egress system within this report. The standard used for design basis contains allowances that allow the use of less restrictive egress capacity factors. The remaining life safety systems meet the minimum standards used throughout this report.
The performance-based analysis establishes performance criteria based on engineering guidelines and develops an evacuation model as well as a computational fluid dynamics model. The performance criteria specified included both visibility and temperature that occupants would be subjected to at 6 feet above the walking surfaces throughout the building. The evacuation model, using Pathfinder, is used to determine the required safe egress time for occupants to safely exit the building. Two conditions were investigated for a general alarm condition, which varied the egress features present for the occupants. A third model was developed based on a recommendation from the performance-based analysis where deficiencies were found in the evacuation time. This evacuation simulation modeled a phased evacuation for the building. The fire model, using Fire Dynamics Simulator, is used to determine the available safe egress time based on developed conditions from the fire and tenability criteria. Two design fires were established based on recommendations in engineering literature as well as specific California regulations. The determined available safe egress time did not exceed the determined required safe egress time found from the evacuation model for a general evacuation, due to queuing at exit stairways.
Recommendations are made based on the findings of the prescriptive and performance-based analysis. The recommendation that would have the largest impact on the performance-based analysis is a phased evacuation strategy. If implemented, the required safe egress time would be less than the available safe egress time, thus allowing occupants to evacuate prior to untenable conditions. Also, a mechanical smoke exhaust system would aid in maintaining the smoke layer from creating untenable conditions at 6 feet above the walking surface.