MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
This FPE 596 culminating project report was developed to meet the requirements for completion of the Fire Protection Master’s Program at Cal Poly. The report is intended to provide a detailed understanding of fire and building code requirements as well as describe both prescriptive and performance based approaches to human behavior in fire scenarios, building evacuation strategies, egress design and tenability analysis. An overall determination will be made to evaluate if the building provides the expected levels of safety for building occupants from fire.
The office building #211 was designed and constructed to be compliant with the International Building Code (IBC) 2015 and NFPA 13 along with company specific standards. This building was designed and constructed to comply with the 2015 International Building Code (IBC) and the 2016 International Fire Code. This building was completed in 2018 and was built to accommodate offices, information technology and technical engineering support personnel. Applicable codes and standards referenced throughout this report include the IBC 2018 edition, 2018 Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), 2019 Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems (NFPA 13), 2019 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA 72), 2018 Fire Code (NFPA 1), 2020 Standard for the Fire Protection of Information Technology Equipment (NFPA 75), 5th Edition of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers Handbook and the 2nd Edition of the Guide to Human Behavior in Fire.
The prescriptive based analysis in this report provides an overview of this two-storey office building and evaluates compliance with applicable codes and standards to determine if this building meets compliance. The prescriptive analysis assessed the egress analysis and design, the buildings structural fire protection, flammability of materials, the fire detection, alarm and communication systems and the automatic water based fire suppression system installed throughout the building. It was determined that the building was in compliance with all codes and standards.
Performance based analysis was also conducted to determine if the available safe egress time (ASET) exceeded the required safe egress time (RSET) for the building occupants. Design fires were evaluated combined with fire modeling to determine the ASET for the third design fire. Tenability criteria was established and evaluated the smoke obscuration and its effect on the building occupants’ visibility to safely egress. Additional tenability criteria such as smoke layer interface, temperature, and smoke toxicity from the design fires were not evaluated. The office building described in this egress analysis demonstrates equivalency and complies with the 2018 IBC requirements described within this report. This building does have additional fire protection systems installed which includes a sprinkler system, smoke detection and alarm in order to protect the occupants and contribute to the ASET of approximately 7.5 minutes which exceeds the RSET of approximately 6 minutes. The active and passive fire protection systems installed in this building if activated as per design would likely allow for all occupants to safely evacuate safely. There are limitations and assumption made during performance based design analysis of egress systems and these need to be considered when designing and implementing fire protection and life safety systems for building occupants.
With prescriptive design our life safety objectives are implicit and if all the prescriptive requirements are met which is the case for this building with respect to exit capacity, the number of exits, exit travel distances, protected enclosures, construction materials and other requirements listed in this report then the ASET will likely exceed the RSET plus a margin of safety. A reasonable safe environment for building occupants is being provided. Performance based design objectives are more explicit and demonstrate moving people out of hazardous environments before the hazard develops to the point where it will threaten the health and safety of the occupants.
The building owner must continue to maintain all the fire protection and life safety systems within the building and continue to conduct emergency evacuation exercises in order to protect the building occupants, the building structure and its components. It is also recommended that the building owner keep areas free of combustible storage and replace upholstered furniture with cotton fabric or metal furniture to reduce the significance of building fires.