MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
A Fire and Life Safety Analysis was performed as an academic exercise as part of the MS Fire Protection Engineering Program of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. The project is a culminating report with regards to prescriptive based and performance based aspects for the fire and life safety analysis of a project building. These analyses were performed on a building located on a college campus in Southern California and is to remain nameless upon the request of the owner and architect. The building is in the School of Physical Sciences at the University it resides. The building houses the Physical Sciences Department Office, Math Department Office, tutoring offices, Chemistry Undergraduate Labs and several Graduate Labs. Most notably, the sub-level of the project building has a nuclear reactor used for gamma-ray spectroscopy.
The purpose of the prescriptive analysis was to determine if the project building adhered to the current codes and standards applicable to the building. The prescriptive analysis utilized primarily the 2016 Edition of the California Building Code (CBC), the 2016 Edition of the California Fire Code (CFC), the 2015 Edition of The Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), the 2016 Edition of the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA 72), and the 2016 Edition of the Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems (NFPA 13). The project building adhered to many aspects of the current codes and standards although the building was designed according to previous editions. Most notably, the egress capacity of the building did not exceed the occupant load of the building. Increasing door widths on the upper floors (Levels 3-5) would resolve this issue. Another solution would be to reassign the spaces with different uses in order to lower the occupant load. Another potential issue with the project building is an inadequate water supply. The sprinkler water demand is far greater than the city water supply. The solution to this issue is two-fold: to increase the water supply and decrease the sprinkler demand. To increase the water supply, a fire pump will need to be added to the system. For academic purposes, a fire pump was selected and the new supply was calculated in the report. Secondly, to decrease the sprinkler demand, a higher k-factor sprinkler will need to be used in order to reduce the end head pressure, thus, further lowering the sprinkler system demand.
The performance-based analysis in this report investigates the ability of the fire protection systems in the project building to perform satisfactorily in regards to the life safety and structural aspects of the building in several different fire scenarios. The analysis was completed using the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) to model several design fire scenarios. The graphical interface PyroSim was utilized to compare the data output from FDS with the evacuation data in the Pathfinder model as well as calculations from the SFPE Handbook 5th Edition. Tenability criteria was determined and used in conjunction with FDS in order to determine the available safe egress time (ASET). This data was compared to the Pathfinder model which determined the required safe egress time (RSET). The building was found to have a greater RSET than ASET in one of the design fires. The visibility tenability requirement was not met for one of the design fire scenarios, however, the addition of a smoke control system in accordance with section 909 of the CBC would likely resolve this issue.