Computer Fire Modeling
Our client built a 710,000-ft2 build-to-suit distribution center in Kentucky leased to ultimately house automotive replacement parts. The facility contains several three-level hand pick racks. The top level is 20 ft. above the floor. People occupy all three levels. The total egress travel distance was between 350 ft. and 400 ft, exceeding the maximum travel distance of 250 ft. allowed by the State Building Code. An exception allows a travel distance of 400 ft. if automatic smoke and heat venting is provided, including curtain boards. The building is protected by ESFR sprinkler technology, which is compatible with neither automatic smoke ventilation nor curtain boards.
We performed a code analysis and smoke ventilation study including smoke and fire modeling with FASTlite modeling software. We developed technical justification to support the elimination of draft curtains, reduction of venting capacity, use of manually operated mechanical exhaust fans for smoke ventilation, and safe egress during travel of up to 400 ft.
We presented our report to the local building official and fire marshal. The building official was supportive but unwilling to make the approval decision alone, so we were asked to file a formal appeal. We prepared and filed the appeal, even assisting the fire marshal in writing a letter supporting our position. We successfully presented our case before an appeals board on behalf of our client. Our design was accepted in full, resulting in savings to our client of over $300,000.
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By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.