MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
This project report analyzes various aspects of fire protection and life safety design for a University Conference Center, for both prescriptive and performance-based designs. The University Conference Center is a ten-story, high-rise building comprised of various gathering spaces, ranging from small conference rooms to large assembly spaces with auditorium-style seating. The building has a large two-story podium with basement below, with a smaller floor plate, ten-story tower offset to one side.
In the prescriptive analysis, no deficiencies were noted in the water-based suppression or fire resistance analysis. The building construction type, height, area, number of stories, wall and structural ratings, and interior finishes all complied with the CBC at the time of construction.
For egress analysis there was one instance with questionable travel distance that appeared to fall roughly ten feet short of the CBC requirement, but this area met the less stringent IBC requirements. There were also difference in occupant load factors between CBC and IBC that affected the calculated occupant load and therefore the egress design of two tower conference rooms.
The fire alarm system was design and installed in conformance with the CBC, no issues were observed during the analysis. However, when reviewed against the NFPA 72 standard there were three minor shortcomings. There was a small patch of missing detector coverage in the corner of a basement IDF room. There was also a small area where audio/visual notification in the second-floor large assembly space fell below the required dBA and candela requirements. Finally, the battery calculations omitted detectors which should have been included.
In the performance-based analysis, design fires were considered, and computer-based fire and egress modeling was completed for the selected fire. The chosen fire was approximately 5MW and involved a Christmas tree display in a two-story prefunction space adjacent to a large presentation hall on the third floor. The required safe egress time (RSET) for the analyzed fire was roughly 11 minutes. The asphyxiant products of combustion did not reach tenability thresholds during that time, but visibility, temperature, and heat flux criteria were quickly exceeded in under one minute. Overall, the available safe egress time (ASET) for this design fire was significantly less than the RSET. The life safety objectives and performance criteria were not met.
Recommendations were provided to improve compartmentation within the tower prefunction spaces. Within the podium an additional egress stair was proposed to move a portion of the egress traffic, thereby reducing the queuing and travel times within the tower.