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Nov 15, 2021

On this week of Fire Code Tech we are talking about how to analyze different life safety aspects of a new construction building. In episode 21 we talk about applicability of codes, structure of the building code and life safety topics from chapter three through six of the international building code. 



Hello. Welcome to the solo cast of fire code tech in these episodes. It's just gonna be me, your host, Gus Gagliardi. There's gonna be a range of topics, but I'm gonna talk about specific technologies, installation, standards, codes, and how they work as well as some other interesting topics that don't neatly fit inside of the context of a normal interview.

Hello, all on this episode of fire code tech, we're talking about. Life safety analysis. Welcome to episode 21 of fire code tech, the solo cast series. So life safety is an interesting topic and I've not found too many, really good succinct, uh, webinars or articles online discussing how to go through the.

Motions of performing a life safety analysis. So this is something that I would've really wanted when I first got into the industry. So I want to try to, um, take this huge task and boil it down as much as I can so that those who are just getting into the process or maybe trying to refine their process for performing a life safety analysis, we'll be able to have some value and, um, get some takeaways from this discuss.

Don't forget to subscribe. So you don't miss an episode and follow us on social media, so you can see all the great fire and life safety topics we're posting about. So let's get into the episode. So again, we're talking about live safety, so I want to preface with some caveats about our discussion. first and foremost, you have to understand the applicability of the codes and standards you're working in.

Uh, I sure I sound like a broken record on this topic, but I don't want somebody to catch one of these solo casts or, um, just tune in for a certain, um, part of these episodes and not understand the sequence of operations for. um, how to specify and, or navigate codes and standards. So all this to say, um, you need to know which codes and standards are applicable for the jurisdiction you're doing work in.

It's different for every state in the us. It's different for many cities. Um, so, uh, if you want some more information about this subject, you can take a listen to the episode we did over the international building code or the episode we did over codes and standards. Both of these would be a great preface for this discussion.

Um, so yeah, just wanted to place. Little bullet point as an understanding of our discussion for the rest of this episode. That's episode 15 for international building code and episode number two for the solo cast on codes and standards. So we'll put some links down in the show notes. Those are some good solo cast to listen to.

In addition to this episode, if you are looking to continue your journey on the subject of how to navigate codes and standards effectively. So in this episode, I want to give a bit of a framework for doing a life safety analysis for a building. For the purposes of this episode, let's say that it is a new construction building using the international building code specifically, I'm using the 2015 version of the international building code.

And I want to give some concrete steps. And if you are so inclined, you could make a bit of a checklist about these steps in order to. Cover the analysis and feel confident in your ability to produce an analysis for our building. So this is something that I didn't have, um, being from a organization that, um, had the architects do more of the life safety analysis.

This wasn't in the, the purview of the fire protection engineering discipline, but I've learned over time, um, how to go through these steps. And really look at the most critical factors in regards to, um, life safety in a building, uh, over time through my career as a fire protection engineer. So we talked about this idea before, but the building code progresses from, um, really general issues like definitions and scope in the first couple chapters.

And then as it moves on. You can kind of use the progression of the chapters, uh, 3, 4, 5, 6, um, is what we're gonna be speaking about in this episode of a go by for looking at the buildings, fire and life safety systems. This is my piece of advice is use the structure of the building code, um, and kind of work your way through the different chapters in the salient points.

And, um, the most formative chapters of the building code, uh, for fire and life safety. There's a lot of pertinent ones for the discipline, but 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10 are probably the biggest as it regards to. Fire and life safety system. So if you can take a look at each of those chapters and see how they apply to your building, um, this will give you a good starting place for, um, making sure that you're in compliance.

So let's talk about a couple of these chapters. Um, in specific chapter three of the international building code is titled use and occupancy. We talked about this chapter before, but this chapter works much in the same way that the hazard determination works in N FPA 13. There are some broad categories with levels of fire severity and combustible loading implied.

And you use these chapters in combination with the. Engineering judgment or the, um, design professional judgment in order to categorize different spaces of the building. And so I wanna look at, um, section 3 0 2 and chapter three as a bit of a talking point for, um, chapter three. So section 3 0 2 more specifically 3 0 2 0.1 general states.

Structures or portions of structures shall be classified with respect to occupancy in one or more of the groups listed in this section. So as a bit of, uh, explanation point on this first statement, um, buildings usually have multiple occupancy classifications. So if you have a, um, business building, you'll have portions of the building that are business, you might have a.

Janitors closet or a storage room that might be a storage occupancy. And so most buildings are amalgamations or combinations of different occupancy groups. So when you are looking at a building, um, if you're using a design software and you want to get. Graphical representation of occupancy classification.

Commonly you will see that, um, architects or fire protection engineers will use hatch patterns to diagram, which part of the buildings pertains to which occupancies. So this is a great way for you to. Um, get an idea of the square footage of the building. That is a certain occupancy, which we'll talk about is an important part of this exercise.

And it'll let you, um, just get a sense of what is the predominant occupancy and hazard moving on in section 3 0 2 0.1. This section says a room or space that is intended to be occupied at different times for different purposes shall comply with all of the requirements that are applicable to each of the purposes for which the room or space will be occupied.

The best example I can think of this statement would be a business building that would have, um, partitions. Separat able partitions. So you could use a space more for an assembly use. So you might have to design for the assembly use case and the business use case. Um, I'm sure there are other factory and industrial implications for this statement, but wanted to give a quick example.

Furthermore, it says structures with multiple occupancies or uses shall comply with section 5 0 8, section 5 0 8 is mixed use occupancies where a structure is proposed for a purpose that is not specifically provided for this code. Such structure shall be classified in the group that it in the group.

That the occupancy most nearly resembles according to the fire safety and relative hazards involved. So this is that thing that I was speaking about before you there's the engineering discretion or the design discretion to, um, fit occupancies into the category, um, in which they most nearly ResSem. So if you get a special situation or an occupancy that is not called out, um, chapter three gives some common examples of these occupancies in the different groups.

So let's run through the groups real quick assembly, which there is a one through a five. So there are a variety of different assembly groups. One example of an assembly group is like, uh, a basketball stadium. And another is example of an assembly group is like a theater. So there's a wide variety within assembly business business is kind of a catchall for commercial occupancies or kind of office buildings or, yeah, it's a pretty wide one.

Um, educational use that one's pretty self explanatory schools. Factory and, and industrial. So these are F1 and F two occupancies. Um, factory occupancies are a lot like storage occupancies in that there are two groups, um, low hazard factory, and low hazard storage and, and moderate hazard factory and moderate hazard storage.

So high hazard group H one through H five, we talked about high hazard. In our hazardous materials episodes, you can check those out. We have great interview episodes and also solo cast episodes about hazardous materials, institutional occupancies, which are places, um, where there are people who are detained or unable to, um, care for themselves.

So these are jails. These are assisted living. Um, occupancies like that. So as you can tell, there are some inherent fire safety challenges and combustible, loadings, and risk baked into how you use the building and what the occupancy is. So that's why they're grouped in this way in order to, um, define the, the hazards and implications of the.

Residential is another occupancy type. Um, this ranges from the house that you could live in to apartments and duplexes. So are there four residential occupancy groups, then we already talked about storage and utility. Which is a U occupancy, which is kinda like the dust bin for occupancy classifications.

Um, think about a storage shed is a U occupancy. So let's move on from occupancy classification and talk about chapter four, which is special occupancy requirements. So. Special occupancy requirements. You can think about these as specific building types or occupancies, which have greater implications for fire and life safety.

So I wrote down some of the most common examples of these, and I just want to go over them briefly. Um, and what that could mean for your life safety? 4 0, 2 is covered mall and open mall buildings. So a mall is a unique kind of structure. Um, it's different stores, different tenants, um, kind of a wide variety of uses for these tenant spaces.

So there's a greater life safety implication here because of. Added amount of people and the different uses for these spaces. Section 4 0 3 is high rises. Um, as you can imagine, uh, section 4 0 3 is high rises, section 4 0 5 is deep underground buildings. Any time where you put people in a situation, which it will make it harder for them to escape a building or, um, Be close to safety or egressing, you will have additional life safety implications.

So high rises come with, um, emergency power requirements, um, fire pump requirements, smoke control, and stairwell pressurization requirements. Section 4 0 4 is atriums. Atrium is a portion of the building that has more than. Two connecting floors. In this situation, you will need a smoke control system, which a smoke control system is a integrated system between the H V C units and the fire alarm system in order to create a tenable space for the occupants to evacuate.

Um, these are extremely costly and very complicated. So you need to be aware when providing analysis, the, the whole reason why we're talking about chapter four is because there are huge cost items in these specific, special occupancy requirements. So you need to understand when these are applicable and when you.

Are looking at them and you're looking at a building, you need to know what the use and function is gonna be because it's could dramatically change the level of fire and life safety that you need to provide. It could, um, extremely change your exit requirements or your systems required. You know, you could go.

um, not having a pump or a tank, um, to needing one. And you know, that that could be on the scale of hundreds of thousands of dollars, but also could be, um, millions of dollars. If you are looking at, uh, uh, occupancy, like an aircraft hanger, let's move on to chapter five, which is allowable Heights areas. In order to talk about how tall and how, um, much square footage your building can have.

You have to understand construction type construction type is what kind of materials and what fire resistance rating is your building. Um, I can speak for, it's interesting talking to people in the global community and fire and life safety. Building materials and the availability of building materials changes with a global perspective.

So in the us where, um, you get a variety of wood, framed wood frame construction, and, um, steel and metal buildings, as well as, um, concrete and kind of everything in between. But, you know, you might. Look at somewhere like Canada, where, um, wood and heavy timber construction is more prevalent because of local sourcing.

So there are five types of construction type one through five. Really we're talking about chapter six stuff right now, but this plays heavily into, um, how tall and how much square footage you're building is allowed to have. So. Um, what another big implication for, uh, fire and life safety and how tall and how much square footage your building can have is if the building is sprinkled or not, there are tables in chapter five, which dictate, um, based on your fully sprinkled application or.

Your building type, how big your building can be. So type one is described in section 6 0 2 0.2 as type one and two type one and two construction. Are those constructions with building elements listed in table 6 0 1 are of non combustible materials, except as permitted in section 6 0 3 and elsewhere in this code.

So, so type one, construction is, um, completely. Non combustible and type two construction, which is in the states is extremely common for commercial building is, um, mostly non, non combustible with some combustible materials. So these definitions are a little bit vague and it's kind of a, an area that's a little bit more difficult for FPE or at least in my experience because the architect is the.

So specifying and constructing the building type. So usually you have to work closely with the architect to determine exactly what construction type they are working with. Type three is defined as the type of construction in which the exterior walls are non combustible materials and the interior building elements are of any material permitted by this code, fire retard, entry and wood framing complying with section 23.

Oh. Point two shall be permitted with exterior wall assemblies of a two hour rating or less. So I don't have much experience with type three, um, construction, um, or type four. They are not super common in which the occupancies that I work in or at the firm that I work in, um, type four is heavy timber. Um, like I said, this is a lot of.

It's it's heavily based on the occupancies you work in and the, uh, region of the world that you work in. So, um, it varies greatly, but type five. Construction is type five. Construction is seen in many residential applications. Uh, for example, the walls and roofs are made of combustible materials. Uh, most commonly just wood, wood frame, construction, uh, wood packages.

So this is common in the us, but in other types, other parts of the world wood construction is not as common. So, uh, yeah, the lion share of the work that I've done has been either type I or type one or two type one buildings type one construction type is for high rise buildings. You have to use type one.

And so that's basically almost. Zero, not zero combustible furnishings or, um, parts of construction in the entire building, which is very costly. So you have to be aware of what construction type you're using because the building allowances between type one and type five are huge. You could be. Have a couple thousand square foot building or an unlimited size building.

So depending on the construction type, well, I think that's quite enough for one episode. Um, hope it wasn't too broad. I wanted to kind of talk about some of the factors pertaining to life safety and, and progressing through the chapters and looking at some of the common elements. Um, we can talk about more on how to analyze for life safety, but really I just wanted to state, you know, Hey, here are the chapters and what you wanna look at, you want to go through these chapters and kind of categorize all of these different elements of a building.

So. Generate a list of the salient life safety factors. So you have a business building that's type two B construction, and it has incidental or accessory uses in the form of storage occupancies, and, you know, start to build a list and you don't have any special use occupancies in your business building.

So you can take a look at your allowable, hide an area. You know, uh, and kind of build a list of the different fire and life safety factors. You do have sprinklers, but you don't have. A stand pipe system because your building's not over 35 feet. So really what a life safety analysis looks like is, um, addressing all the important factors for fire and life safety, kind of tabulating them and making sure that you are providing the code minimum requirements and making sure that is also in line with the building owners, um, need for their.

Um, function, hope you enjoyed and we'll see you next time on fire code. Thanks for listening. Everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation.

Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.