MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
This report analyzed several different aspects of the fire protection and life safety strategy for the Tritium Engineering Building (TEB) at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, SC. The TEB is a single-story, Type IIB building that primarily houses engineering and technical staff. The building is approximately 15,560 ft2 and consists of two large “open areas” enclosed by hard- wall offices. Modular workstations are located in both “open areas” and accommodate the majority of the building occupants. This analysis provided both a prescriptive and a performance-based approach for analyzing fire hazards within the building. The prescriptive- based analysis evaluated the building for compliance with nationally recognized codes and standards. The performance-based analysis evaluated the building using selected performance criteria.
The prescriptive analysis was divided into four sections that evaluated building compliance with nationally recognized codes and standards. These sections include an analysis of building construction and fire resistance, automatic fire suppression, alarm and detection, and life safety. This analysis concluded that the TEB complies with nationally recognized codes and standards in these areas.
The performance-based analysis considered three design fires and determined whether specific safety objectives were met. These design fires included a fire in the conference room near the main entrance, a fire in the centrally-located break room, and a fire in one of the building’s “open areas”. The fire in the “open area” was determined to be the most challenging and selected for a detailed analysis. This portion of the analysis included an evaluation of occupant safety by establishing tenability criteria that were used to define the threshold at which occupants are no longer considered “safe”. The tenability criteria in this report were limited to three environmental factors that can cause harm to occupants during a fire: carbon monoxide (CO) concentration, temperature, and visibility. A fire was modeled inside one of the TEB’s open office areas and egress modeling was used to determine the amount of time required to evacuate the building. This time was then compared to the time it took for the tenability criteria to be reached. This analysis concluded that occupants needed approximately 514 seconds to evacuate and that the tenability criterion for visibility was exceeded at approximately 214 seconds, suggesting that occupants may not have sufficient time to evacuate safely. The tenability criteria for CO concentration and temperature were not exceeded within the time needed for evacuation.
Fire modeling was also used to examine the structural performance of the roof support structure under prolonged fire exposure. This evaluation was primarily in consideration for first responders and aimed to conclude whether the building should be entered during firefighting operations. This analysis concluded that the structural integrity of the building was not at risk when examined under the conditions generated by the proposed design fire.
This analysis resulted in one recommendation regarding the mounting height of the visible notification devices in the building open areas. Though compliant with the installation requirements of NFPA 72, the mounting height of the visual notification devices is below the height of the workstation walls. It is recommended that these devices are raised or supplemented with ceiling mounted devices to provide sufficient notification to occupants in these areas.
Overall, this analysis concluded that the Tritium Engineering building is compliant with the prescriptive requirements set forth in nationally recognized fire protection codes and standards and that the TEB fire safety strategy is sufficient.