Constructing college, university buildings wisely: Fire and life safety

Engineering mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and fire protection systems in colleges and universities requires designers to look toward the future of postsecondary education, and consider all aspects of a building and its occupants.

12/29/2015


Aravind Batra, PE, LC, LEED AP, Principal, P2S Engineering Inc., Long Beach, Calif. Courtesy: P2S Engineering Inc.Craig Buck, PE, LEED AP, Associate, RMF Engineering, Charleston, S.C. Courtesy: RMF EngineeringJeffrey R. Crawford, PE, LEED AP, CCS, Vice President, Director of Higher, Education & Research Market, Ross & Baruzzini Inc., St. Louis. Courtesy: Ross & Baruzzini Inc.

Andre M. Hebert, PE, BEMP, LEED AP BD+C, Principal, Senior Mechanical, Engineer, EYP Architecture & Engineering, Boston. Courtesy: EYP Architecture & EngineeringSergiu Pelau, PE, LEED AP, Principal, Syska Hennessy Group, New York City. Courtesy: Syska Hennessy GroupScott Robbins, PE, CEM, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Vice President, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, Boston. Courtesy: WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

Respondents

Aravind Batra, PE, LC, LEED AP, Principal, P2S Engineering Inc., Long Beach, Calif.

Craig Buck, PE, LEED AP, Associate, RMF Engineering, Charleston, S.C.

Jeffrey R. Crawford, PE, LEED AP, CCS, Vice President, Director of Higher Education & Research Market, Ross & Baruzzini Inc., St. Louis

Andre M. Hebert, PE, BEMP, LEED AP BD+C, Principal, Senior Mechanical Engineer, EYP Architecture & Engineering, Boston

Sergiu Pelau, PE, LEED AP, Principal, Syska Hennessy Group, New York City

Scott Robbins, PE, CEM, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Vice President, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff Boston


 

CSE: What unique fire-suppression systems have you specified in college/university buildings?

Batra: We have specified dry-type fire-suppression systems for data centers, and dual-action fire-sprinkler systems.

CSE: Describe any unusual detection, suppression, and notification systems you've specified in college/university projects. What drove the design?

Buck: Beam detectors are traditionally the method used for smoke detection in atriums, but they are susceptible to building movement and prone to false alarms due to sunlight, dust, condensation, and object intrusion. With all the events that are required to happen in the sequence of operation of a smoke-exhaust system, a false alarm is more than just a nuisance. To eliminate false alarms in college/university projects, RMF has used an open-area smoke-imaging detection system in lieu of the traditional beam detection. This system consists of an imager, a camera-like device with a wide field of view, and an emitter aligned on the opposite wall within the atrium. The emitter sends both infrared and UV light to the imager. The use of the two technologies enables the device to discriminate between real smoke and dust, condensation, and other objects, reducing false alarms. At the Clemson Watt Family Innovation Center, RMF used the same open-area smoke-imaging detection and was able to place the devices at an angle across the space. Because it's important to have access to the emitter, it was placed at 12 ft above the finish floor. The imager does not require much access, if any, and was placed within 18 in. of the ceiling. The lower elevation can now be accessed with a ladder rather than a scissor lift.

Batra: We have specified a complete addressable fire alarm and detection system with a speaker-notification system that provides the college the ability to use it for both emergency notifications and as a notification device for the fire alarm system. This design was driven by the college requiring the ability to send emergency notifications without having to invest in a separate public address system.

CSE: Describe unique security and access-control systems you have specified on college/university projects.

Batra: Unique security and access-control systems include Internet protocol (IP) cameras, card readers for access, and sensors at windows to alert the public about safety issues at the campus. The system also includes a video-based system that has the ability to record events for viewing by the public safety department.

CSE: What types of fire/life safety systems have you designed for high-rise college/university structures? Discuss elevator evacuation, refuge floors, etc.

Batra: The fire/life safety systems that we have designed for high-rises include an automatic smoke-detection system with notification systems that included speakers and strobes. The design also included an elevator-recall feature that incorporates smoke detectors at each of the lobbies and a recall system that recalls the elevator to the ground floor should there be fire on any of the upper floors. It recalls the same elevator to an alternate floor designated by the fire department should there be fire on the ground floor.

 



No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Combined heat and power; Assessing replacement of electrical systems; Energy codes and lighting; Salary Survey; Fan efficiency
Commissioning lighting control systems; 2016 Commissioning Giants; Design high-efficiency hot water systems for hospitals; Evaluating condensation and condensate
Solving HVAC challenges; Thermal comfort criteria; Liquid-immersion cooling; Specifying VRF systems; 2016 Product of the Year winners
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing Arc Flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
click me