MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
This report examines the Baylor, Scott & White Medical Center in College Station, TX. This hospital is a 324,070 square feet midrise building of Type I-A construction and Group I-2 occupancy, with a basement and five above-grade floors. Publicly-available, simplified floor plans were obtained from the internet, and a prescriptive- and performance-based analysis was formed around these plans. It should be noted that these online plans may not contain all information and details in that are found in architectural plans, and that assumptions were made in order to ‘fill in the gaps’ and proceed with this report. For example, on the basement floor plan, only one vertical exit is shown, and in this report it is assumed no other vertical exits are present, though in reality there may be. Such assumptions are noted at the time they are presented within this report.
This report includes a prescriptive-based analysis of the fire and life safety components of this building, which includes the egress, water-based fire suppression, detection and notification, structural, flammability assessment method, and smoke control systems. The prescriptive-based analysis is based on the IBC and associated NFPA standards, as adopted by the AHJ in the area. It is understood that as a health care facility, requirements and surveys by the Joint Commission (formerly Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, JCAHO, and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals JCAH) apply, in addition to those by AHJ’s to other facilities and occupancies. However, the Joint Commission requirements are outside the scope of this report, and the report instead focuses on the focus on the IBC and NFPA standards.
This reports also includes a performance-based analysis of this building. The performance-based analysis considers two design fires based on data from the SFPE Handbook, 5th edition: an office workstation fire, and a patient bed fire. Pathfinder models with patient beds requiring assistance to move was used to estimate the required safe egress time (RSET) to evacuate from one smoke compartment to another via horizontal exits for each scenario. FDS models were then used to find the available safe egress time (ASET) based on tenability criteria.
Results: From the prescriptive-based analysis, and based on assumptions made in this report, the Baylor, Scott & White Medical Center generally meets code requirements. One example where this is not the case is in the number of exits provided from the basement level to the level of discharge on the ground floor. As noted in the summary though, another vertical exit may be present, but not shown on these simplified floor plans. Additionally, the assumptions made as to the occupancy classification and loads for spaces in the basement were deliberately chosen to be conservative, and in reality the occupant load may be below the threshold for two separate exits.
From the performance-based analysis, an ASET of over 500 seconds was calculated for the office fire scenario, which is greater than an RSET of 315.5 seconds for that scenario. However, an ASET of 260 seconds was calculated for the bedroom fire scenario, which is less than the RSET for that scenario. Additional examination of the model with stakeholders, including the AHJ and hospital, should be conducted to verify assumptions and data. In case RSET still exceeds ASET, additional engineered systems or administrative controls can be implemented to increase ASET until it exceeds RSET, including 7 increases in detection, notification, suppression, smoke control, flammability limits on fixtures, furnishings, and equipment, etc.
It should be noted that both the office and bedroom fire scenarios were based on a sprinkler controlled fire, and several assumptions regarding the overall HRR curve, reaction chemistry, and other factors which may be further refined. The fact that the calculations assumed that the doors to the office and the bedroom were open during each fire scenario likely was a key component of these model calculations, and bares further examination.
Conclusions: This report serves as an academic analysis of the Baylor, Scott & White Medical Center in College Station, TX. While lack of detailed drawings and information necessarily make this report limited in use, it is hoped this paper serves as a basic review of the life safety systems of this hospital, and hospitals in general. It is also anticipated that this narrative may serve as a starting point for future detailed studies.