MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
The Loew’s Pitkin building is a renovation of a movie/stage theater built in 1929. Over the next three decades the neighborhood declined and the theater closed in the Nineteen Sixties. The building was then a church for a while and then retail space with the theater auditorium empty. The building was finally abandoned in the Seventies and deteriorated until the early part of the next century. The School board of New York City took possession of the vacant structure and turned it into PS 159. It is a grade school serving grades from kindergarten to fifth grade and special education.
This building is a public grade school located in Brooklyn, New York. This report evaluates the prescriptive code requirements of the New York City building codes and standards in effect at the time of permitting in the year, 2007. The building is Six Stories with an occupied roof. The building does not have an occupied story (roof level) over Seventy Five Feet. This building does not meet the requirements of a High Rise building as defined in the New York City Building Code. The building is categorized as a non- combustible protected structure. It has separated mixed occupancy classifications consisting of Assembly, Education, Business, Storage, and Factory. This report will analyze one fire scenario of a Christmas tree in the multi-use space Gym Auditorium Cafeteria located on the Sixth floor for the performance base design requirement.
The prescriptive standards/codes used to evaluate the building are the New York City Building Code (IBC), New York City Fire Code (IFC), New York City Electric Code, and applicable standards from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The report will analyze building code requirements to include height and area, fire resistance rating of structural components, unprotected opening requirements, separation distance, fire department accesses, fire extinguisher placement, egress components, Fire sprinkler, and fire alarm. The Performance based analysis was conducted using Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS).
The fire scenario in this performance based analysis is a Christmas tree fire in the multipurpose room on the top floor. The requirements of tenability will be established: temperature, visibility and fractional effective dose. The time for egress from the multipurpose room will be calculated to obtain the required safe egress time (RSET). The smoke layer height has been calculated using FDS and the available safe egress time will be determined (ASET). A comparison of the two components will be done to determine if tenable environment lasts long enough for people to egress the multipurpose room.
There is one room that did not meet New York City building Code egress travel distance requirements. On the roof, a mechanical room located in the lower left hand corner did not meet the One Hundred foot travel distanced required for a single exit egress. There are three areas that did not meet the mean egress requirements for NFPA 101 the Life Safety Code; but, did meet the building code requirements. The kindergarten and first grade did not meet the requirement of being on level of exit discharge nor were they provided with an independent means of egress. The second grade is more than one story above exit discharge and was not provided with an independent means of egress.
The performance based analysis determined the Christmas tree fire scenario in the multipurpose room did create an untenable environment before the occupants left the room. The smoke layer descended below a level of seven foot before all of the occupants left the room failing the visibility requirement of tenability.
The installation of either a Mechanical or Natural Ventilation System would increase the time the smoke layer would take to reach a level of Seven feet allowing the visibility requirement of tenability to be met.