MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
This report evaluates the fire protection system of the Kennedy Building using a prescriptive approach and a performance-based design. The prescriptive approach evaluates code compliance of the structural design, fire suppression system, alarm and detection and smoke control. The performance-based design evaluates egress and life safety protection and three design fires that could potentially compromise the goals and objectives of the design.
The Kennedy Building is on the Campus of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and serves as the primary library of the university. This building has five stories of mixed occupancies. It is partially sprinklered, has limited automatic detection and smoke control is achieved by shutting down the HVAC system upon activation of a smoke detector.
The prescriptive based design evaluates compliance with Fire Protection building code requirements as prescribed in IBC 2021. This report evaluates the fire protection features designed for safe egress, fire suppression, alarm and detection, smoke control, and structural fire protection including interior finishes.
Upon evaluation of the prescriptive based design (against current fire codes), it is determined that the building partially meets requirements, and the following recommendations are to be considered to meet minimum requirements: (1) reviewing occupancy use of the second floor to reduce the number of occupants by 250 occupants as the exit capacity on all exits was determined inadequate per prescriptive design; (2) reviewing door openings of the Courtyards to open in the direction of egress and add additional doors; (3) allowing exit access doors to open in the path of travel (room 144 and room 510A), and revise occupancy classification (room 216B); (4) installing a voice alarm system to direct occupants on how to evacuate the building; specially to promote staged evacuation where occupants that are most at risk can have priority at evacuation. Additionally, given a fire on the second floor of the building, the trained staff can advise occupants on the fifth floor to avoid the main stairwell; (5) adding a door on the north side of the mechanical room at the fifth floor to meet travel distance and path of travel requirements; (6) moving the FACP to a location where can be accessed by the fire department from an exterior door.
In addition to prescriptive design, this report evaluates the performance design by analyzing three design fires. The primary goals and objectives of the performance-based designs are to protect life safety. This report evaluates the ability of the occupants to egress prior to reaching maximum tenability conditions as specified by the design fires.
The three design fires follow guidelines specified by the SFPE Handbook and NFPA 101. Given that the main objective of the performance-based design is to ensure safe egress of occupants, the goals were established to evaluate safe egress of all occupants, tenability conditions, and flashover conditions.
Three design fires were analyzed using criteria specified by NFPA 101. These fires included a fire in the Café reaching a maximum HRR of 6,000 KW, a fire in the study room with a maximum HRR of 10,500 KW and an office fire at 2,400 KW.
In all three fire design scenarios, it was determined that the goals and objectives were not met. Based on Pathfinder analysis, RSET was determined to be 17 minutes. In the first fire scenario, tenability limits were reached within six and a half minutes which is much less than the determined RSET. In the second and third fire scenarios, flashover occurs within six minutes and thirteen minutes, respectively.
Based on this analysis, it was determined that installing a full sprinkler system design would increase the probability of safe egress. Per findings of prescriptive and performance-based designs, it is recommended to install a complete sprinkler system that would control fires occurring in the building as well as increasing the time to reach maximum tenability conditions. Finally, although not required by current code, installing a voice alarm system to direct occupants on how to evacuate the building; specially to promote staged evacuation where occupants that are most at risk can have priority at evacuation. Additionally, given a fire on the second floor of the building, the trained staff can advise occupants on the fifth floor to avoid the main stairwell.