MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
Analyzing the fire protection features of the Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics Building 180, located on Cal Poly Campus in San Luis Obispo California was done using two methods. The prescriptive based analysis of the building focused on the building design, egress, structural fire protection, fire suppression, fire alarm and detection systems to determine if current codes and standards were meet. The performance based analysis discusses certain methods and design fire scenarios that are present within the building and the building’s ability to protect occupants until they can exit safely. The performance based analysis was done using Pathfinder and PyroSim  to determine ASET vs RSET values.
The prescriptive based analysis determined that Warren J Baker Center for Science and Mathematics building design, egress, structural fire protection, fire suppression systems, fire alarm and detection systems complied with all applicable codes and standards.
The performance based analysis looked at the following. This analysis looked at typical design fire scenarios present in the building and determined the atrium area has the largest fuel loads and will impact occupant egress the most.
Atrium Design Fire Scenarios:
1) Any occupant who is not intimate with ignition shall not be exposed to instantaneous or cumulative untenable conditions. (NFPA 101 -2015 – Section 5.2.2)
2) Design fire 1 is based on scenario 6 from the LSC 2015 (Balcony Spill Fire Plume). The fire is located on the second floor in a seating area within the atrium. The area is fully sprinkled and is the largest fuel area that would affect the most floors if there was a fire. The fire will become sprinkler controlled at some point during the fire and there will be activation of the smoke management system.
3) Design fire 2 is based on scenario 8 from the LSC 2015 (Axial Fire Plume). This fire is located on the second floor in the atrium opening. This fire will not be sprinkler controlled but activation of the smoke management system will occur. The fire detection system will activate and the passive smoke control system will be engaged.
All the furniture within both design fire areas are TB 133 compliant, this limits the Heat Release Rate (HRR) to 80 kW per item. Running the PyroSim model with a HRR around 80 kW concluded that the fire will not spread to the other pieces furniture. The PyroSim results from both scenarios indicated that all tenable conditions were maintain for the time limit of 600 seconds except for visibility. The visibility requirement of 13 meters was lost about 270 seconds within both fire scenarios but the occupants should have egressed the floor by this time according to Pathfinder and the calculated RSET values to be discussed later in this report.
Using TB 133 compliant furniture within the atrium areas is vital for the passive smoke control system to maintain tenable conditions for occupants to egress safely. If non-compliant furniture is introduced into these areas the passive naturally ventilated smoke control system should be replaced with a mechanical smoke control system, then this would help with exhausting smoke within the atrium and maintaining the visibility for a longer period. The other recommendation is to implement a phased evacuation plan for the building. The phased evacuation would use the horizontal exits within the building to compartmentalize the wings and atrium from one another. The building is already separated this way with rated walls and doors. The voice communication system in the building can be used to coordinate and direct occupants on whether they should stay in place and/or who should evacuate to the closest safe exit. The adjoining fire rated doors in the corridors could be relocated to the align with the walls of the atrium eliminating areas of trapped smoke, and allowing for safe egress from the center stair to outside the building without going through the atrium.