Degree Name

MS in Fire Protection Engineering


College of Engineering


Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual


The purpose of the culminating report was to perform a prescriptive-based and performance-based analysis on the fire and life safety systems in the laboratory building at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). The prescriptive-based analysis determined if the laboratory building met applicable code requirements for life safety systems. The performance-based analysis conducted a series of fire scenarios to ensure the fire and life safety systems provided adequate egress time for occupants in the event of a fire. The prescriptive-based analysis was based on the Life Safety Code (LSC) and International Building Code (IBC). The laboratory building is a mixed occupancy building. The occupancy of each area was classified according to the use of the area and the hazards that exist. The code was used to determine if the life safety systems were appropriate for each occupancy classification. Life safety systems include: egress, fire suppression, fire alarm, and structural fire protection. The capacity of the egress system was calculated and compared to the occupant load. Analysis of the fire suppression system determined if the automatic sprinkler system was built to National Fire Protection Associate (NFPA) standards. The sprinkler water demand was calculated to ensure the water supply to the building was adequate. The fire alarm system was analyzed for proper spacing of detection and notification appliances. The electrical demand of the alarm system was calculated to ensure the battery backup supply was sufficient. The structural fire protection analysis confirmed proper materials and separation requirements existed in the building. The performance-based analysis used stakeholders’ goals and objectives to select appropriate fire scenarios to test the ability of the fire protection systems. The first fire scenario was a lobby fire open to the main corridor with ineffective sprinklers. The second scenario was a portable heater fire that ignited an office workstation. The third scenario was a flammable liquid spill fire located in a high hazard area. The Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) hydraulic model, DETACT, and Pathfinder were used to calculate the required safe egress time (RSET). Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) was used to calculate the available safe egress time (ASET). A fire scenario was considered successful if the ASET was greater than the RSET. A qualitative risk analysis was performed in order to provide a list of prioritized recommendations to achieve a successful fire scenario. The laboratory building complied with all aspects of the prescriptive-based analysis except for having an adequate water supply. Both the hand calculations and the designer’s calculations exceeded the water supply curve. The building did not meet the performance criteria for the performance-based analysis; however, most of the criteria can be met with a few modifications to the fire protection systems. In conclusion, the risk analysis identified the top five risks and suggested the following corrective actions: construct a wall to separate the lobby from the main corridor; ensure proper transportation and storage of flammable liquids; install manual pull stations at the exits of offices with numerous cubicles; maintain frequent inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM); perform a hydraulic calculation using a computer model to verify 11 sprinkler water demand calculations. Although the laboratory building did not pass the performance-based analysis, the building is not considered unsafe because of the low probability of a fire scenario occurring. A quantitative risk analysis is recommended if the building owner would like to determine the probability of a fire scenario actually occurring.





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