MS in Fire Protection Engineering
College of Engineering
Frederick Mowrer and Christopher Pascual
A Fire Protection and Life Safety Analysis has been performed on California Polytechnic State University Building 192 – Engineering IV as part of a culminating project in the Masters of Science in Fire Protection Engineering program at California Polytechnic State University. This analysis consists of a prescriptive analysis based on current codes and standards as well as a performance-based analysis.
A prescriptive analysis evaluates compliance with modern codes and standards and consists of the following five parts: 1)Egress Design and Analysis, 2)Structural Fire Protection, 3)Water-based Fire Suppression, 4)Fire Detection and Alarm Systems, and 5)Smoke Control Systems
The purpose of the prescriptive analysis is to determine if Engineering IV complies with the modern codes and standards that would be applicable if the building was constructed in the present. The prescriptive analysis is performed using the 2016 California Building and Fire Codes (CBC and CFC), and well as various NFPA standards adopted by the CBC and CFC.
Engineering IV’s means of egress system is evaluated using occupant load factors from the 2016 CBC as well as CPDC Technical Bulletin A/E 17-002, which contains more conservative factors than those originally used based on the 2001 CBC (1997 UBC). The resulting occupant load calculations show that areas previously considered as business use would now be considered flexible assembly space, and that based on the increased occupant loads present the exit capacity is severely non-compliant for the second and third floors of the building. Regardless, the university keeps an emergency planning and preparedness plan in accordance with Chapter 4 of the California Fire Code, and is required to keep the occupant load of the building within the exit capacity limits specified in the original design. Other means of egress requirements such as travel distance, number of exits, exit separation and common path of travel were found to be compliant based on the original design.
The building’s fire detection and alarm system was evaluated based on the requirements of the 2016 CBC as well as NFPA 72. Visible appliances are provided in most public use areas; however there is a lack of coverage in the Multi-Disciplinary Dirty Lab, Room 130. Smoke detectors are provided in corridors, classrooms, laboratories and office spaces; however, smoke detectors are not located in the 1st Floor welding lab. The secondary power supply calculations confirm that the Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) is provided with adequate backup power for this application.
The building’s automatic sprinkler system was evaluated using the 2016 CBC as well as NFPA 13 and NFPA 25. Hydraulic calculations were performed for the most remote area of the building on the 3rd floor. These calculations show that the sprinkler demand at this location exceeds the water supply provided at the site man. A fire pump has been sized to meet the demand of the sprinkler system.
A structural fire protection analysis was performed using the 2016 CBC. The building elements used in the construction of Engineering IV appear to meet or exceed the requirements set by the 2016 CBC. Additionally, the Type IB construction used for this building meets the allowable building height and area requirements of CBC Chapter 5. All building elements and assemblies with required fire-resistance ratings are U.L. listed.
The building’s smoke management features are evaluated based on the requirements of 2016 CBC. Engineering IV is provided with all smoke management features required by the 2016 CBC. The 2-hour rated curtain wall sprinklers and glass enclosure at the top of the communicating stair as well as the horizontal fire shutters serve to limit the development of a large smoke plume in the main lobby and eliminate the requirement for mechanical smoke control. Magnetic closing doors, elevator hoistway protection and combination smoke/fire dampers serve to compartmentalize the building and limit the spread of smoke in a fire event. Duct smoke detectors are provided at both air handlers to detect if smoke is being supplied into the building’s HVAC system and allows the fire alarm system to shut down the HVAC system in alarm condition.
A performance based analysis was performed to determine if occupants could safety egress from the building in the event of a fire. Two fire scenarios were evaluated using Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) and Pathfinder. The Required Safe Egress Time (RSET) was determined by researching occupant behaviors and by using Pathfinder to model building egress. Tenability criteria were determined based on engineering judgment and used with FDS to determine if unsafe conditions were reached before the Required Safe Egress Time (RSET) was reached. Based on the results of the performance based analysis, visibility dropped below 10-meters in both Design Fire Scenarios before the RSET time was reached. As such, Engineering IV does not provide an adequate level of protection for occupants during the time needed to evacuate. To provide a tenable environment for occupants during evacuation, I would recommend providing an engineering smoke control system complying with CBC Section 909 or providing a rated separation between Levels 1 and 2. I also recommend revisiting the location of combustibles in the lobby and main corridor of the building.