MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
The building of interest for this project is the Construction Innovation Center (CIC) at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. The CIC consists of 3 structures (buildings A, B, and C) equipped throughout with a wet pipe automatic sprinkler system and a fire alarm system with smoke detection. This report reviews the prescriptive and performance-based requirements along with providing a fire safety management plan. The prescriptive based portion of this report covers egress, fire alarm, automatic fire sprinklers, flammability, and structural fire protection requirements. Upon completion of the prescriptive code analysis comparing the CIC to the 2015 International Building Code (IBC), the buildings were found to comply with the code requirements with a few exceptions. The flammability analysis lists out the requirements for interior finishes permitted under the 2015 IBC. No detailed description was provided of the interior finishes so it could not be verified if the interior finish of the building meets the code requirement. The automatic sprinkler system installed was found to comply with the NFPA 13 requirements for occupancy classification (light, and ordinary hazard), sprinkler spacing, and water supply requirements. Hydraulic calculations were performed to verify that the water supply from the San Luis Obispo public water main was adequate for the system demand in the hydraulically most challenging areas of the CIC. Based on the water flow test from 2002, it was found that the water available as well as the pressure requirements are adequate for the automatic sprinkler system of the CIC without the need for an additional water supply and/or a fire pump. The inspection, testing and maintenance requirements from NFPA 25 are also summarized. The egress components of the CIC were found to comply with the requirements of the IBC for occupant loading, common path of travel, travel distance, and exit component width. The occupants of building B are not provided with their own stairwell and are reliant on the stairwell of buildings A and C for egress. By splitting the occupants of building B, the exit widths are within code requirements. However, when adding the Simpson High Bay (SHB) to the analysis, the capacity of the stairwell associated with CIC building C is exceeded. The SHB drawings obtained shows the mezzanine of the SHB connected to the second floor of the CIC and using the CIC for egress. The occupant load for the mezzanine is shown to be 43 people. The SHB is provided with another exit not connected to the CIC, but the CIC has the capacity for the additional occupant load provided that all of the SHB occupants use the stairwell of building A. The fire alarm system provides smoke detection throughout the building which is not required by the IBC. The one item which is questionable if it meets the code requirements is the sound pressure level within the offices in building A of the CIC. Hand calculations (based on SFPE Handbook) where performed that indicates the sound pressure level is below the 70dBA requirement per NFPA 72. The hand calculations made several assumptions on building materials which greatly impact the results. This not of great concern as another horn could be added to the notification circuit if testing finds areas below the audibility requirement of NFPA 72. The largest problem or question comes from determining if all the buildings on the site comply with the 2007 version of the California Building Code (CBC). The CIC was built under the 2001 edition of the CBC as three separate buildings while the drawings of the SHB (built under the 2007 edition of the CBC) indicate that the CIC and the SHB were considered as one building. This would require that the CIC be updated to comply with the 2007 edition of the CBC. This needs to be verified; however, the as-built drawings of the SHB were not obtained so there could be changes/differences not included in this report. The structural code analysis provides the building materials used and details the fire resistance ratings required for the building. The CIC is identified as Type IIB construction which allows for none of the structural members to be fire rated. The only fire rated walls throughout the CIC are for vertical shafts, including mechanical and elevator shafts, and 2-hour wall separating building B from building C. This 2- hour wall is provided as it was required under the original building code of the CIC. The original building code of the CIC had a much smaller allowable area for Type IIB construction than newer editions of the building code. To allow for the buildings to be considered separate buildings the 2-hour fire wall was provided. The performance-based design review was accomplished with several design fires to represent several different NFPA 101 design fire scenarios. Design fires in a lecture room of building C, corridor of building A, conference room in building A, and in the adjacent SHB are discussed. A combined/final heat release rate curve was found for all the design fires, but only the SHB design fire was modeled in detail including computer modeling. The remaining design fires are discussed in enough detail where computer modeling verify the hand calculations and be based upon other reported information. The lecture room and corridor design fire if modeled with FDS would look at the tenability criteria of the occupants within the room/corridor as well as how the occupants in the corridor could possibly be affected. Several different ventilation factors would account for door openings, and windows breaking. More tenability criteria would need to be identified such as visibility. If the conference room design fire was modeled further, a structural engineer would most likely need to be consulted. The exposed structural members within the space could be analyzed using temperatures from FDS for the boundary conditions in SAIFR. However, failure of the structural members within the space could not affect the occupants within the CIC. If the redundant structural elements are sized appropriately structural integrity could still be maintained allowing for safe occupant evacuation and repair of the structure after a fire. The results of the SHB design fire assumed an opening was present from the time of ignition of the fire to account for the possibility the glass on the SHB breaking and a fire plum affecting the SHB. The criteria the fire was modeled against was the tenability of the occupants in building B. The occupants in building B are not provided with their own stairwell and are reliant upon building A and C’s stairs. Thus, they are exposed to the hazards of a fire in the SHB. The tenability criteria selected was a 120°C temperature, 3,000 ppm CO concentration, visibility of 10 meters, and a heat flux of 2.5kW/m2. Only the visibility criteria were exceeded during the FDS simulation. The visibility was found to reach 10m at the edge of the 3rd story balcony of the CIC at 1238 seconds. Egress modeling was completed using both hand calculations and a computer model for total building evacuation. Hand calculations were based upon the SFPE handbook method and were performed for no exit stairs being blocked and one exit stair being blocked. The hand-calculated exit time was found to be 10 and 11 minutes respectively. The computer-based evacuation model used Mass Motion. The results of the computer model were within 1 minute of the results from the hand calculation (not including the applied factor of safety for either method). The Mass Motion model found a total building evacuation time of 10 minutes which was the most onerous scenario out of the 25 times the model was run. Results in Mass Motion can vary so the model was run multiple times for statistical significance. The resulting factor of safety was found to be 1.8 with an RSET of 11 minutes and a 20min (1238s) ASET. The fire safety management plan provided is intended to be a stand along document to be provided to the building owner or facilities operator to provide a brief summary of what is installed throughout the building and the requirements of the CIC under the 2015 edition of the IBC. Upon reviewing the fire protection of the CIC, it is recommended that a fire alarm test be conducted, and a more in-depth historical code review be completed. The fire alarm test should verify if Buildings A, B, C, and the SHB are connected as in if a detector is activated in building A will it notify occupants in all the other structures. Then the second reason for the fire alarm test is to verify that the audibility requirements are met throughout the building. The recommendation for a in depth historical code review should be completed as there may be an instance with the SHB addition that the CIC does not comply with the original code it was designed with. If so compliance with current California Building and Fire code may be required.