Fire, Life Safety

Focus on specialty structures: Fire and life safety

Sports arenas, historical buildings, theaters and other specialty buildings require unique engineering design, especially in facilities with a lot of people
By Consulting-Specifying Engineer August 12, 2019

Respondents 

Wayne E. Allred, PE, LEED AP 

Principal/Regional Director 

TLC Engineering Solutions 

Orlando, Florida 

Allred brings 30 years of electrical engineering experience to his position as Principal and Regional Director of the company’s Orlando unit. His career choice was inspired by growing up on Florida’s space coast, watching Saturn V rocket launches and other events.  

 

Scott Foster, PE, LEED AP 

Managing Principal 

Affiliated Engineers Inc. 

Chicago 

Foster joined AEI in 2007 and now serves as managing principal. He was a 2016 Consulting-Specifying Engineer 40 Under 40 award winner. 

 

Kevin Lewis, PE, LEED AP BD+C 

Senior Vice President/Venue Practice Director 

Henderson Engineers 

Lenexa, Kansas 

As Senior Vice President/Venue Practice Director, Lewis has managed the design of more than a dozen LEED-certified sports projects. Before joining the company, he received collegiate scholarships for baseball and track. 

 

Robert V. Hedman, PE, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, Fitwel Amb. 

Principal 

Kohler Ronan LLC 

Danbury, Connecticut 

As principal, Hedman serves as co-head of the mechanical department, oversees staff and managers numerous large projects. He focuses on coordination between disciplines and systems integration with architectural and structural design components. 


CSE: What are some of the unique challenges regarding fire/life safety system design that you’ve encountered for such projects? How have you overcome these challenges? 

Foster: In fieldhouses, the large volume and height of the space create challenges where traditional fire alarm notification devices may be unable to provide sufficient coverage due to the physical limitations of fire alarm devices. In such situations, alternative solutions need to be considered, for example trumpet speakers and LED message boards to serve in lieu of traditional fire alarm devices. 

Lewis: Integration of smoke control systems can pose challenges for largevolume projects. We have a large in-house fire protection and code group that are knowledgeable on these issues and we work with them regularly to solve challenges that the code typically doesn’t allow for. Modeling the conditions and proving out the process is our go-to method to prove our engineered system works.  

CSE: How have the trends in fire/life safety changed on such projects? 

Foster: Requests for fire alarm systems with mass notification capabilities have become more frequent. This may significantly increase the number of devices needed to meet mass notification intelligibility requirements. 

Lewis: We haven’t seen big changes as the focus is still on patron safety, but changes in technology have helped create facilities that are even safer than as little as 10 years ago. Many of the systems we now use send signals if there is a failure and/or can be observed remotely through the use of apps and the internet, allowing for better control and monitoring.  

CSE: What firesmoke control and security features might you incorporate in these facilities that you wouldn’t see on other projects? 

Lewis: Integration of smoke control systems can pose challenges for largevolume projects. We have a large in-house fire protection and code group that are knowledgeable on these issues and we work with them regularly to solve challenges that the code typically doesn’t allow for. Modeling the conditions and proving out the process is our go-to method to prove our engineered system works.  

Foster: Because arenas are usually high-volume spaces connecting multiple floors, building codes require smoke control systems to protect occupants and allow for safe egress during a smoke event. The Northwestern University Welsh Ryan Arena project was especially challenging, converting a single-story, high-volume space into a three-level space within the existing volume, retaining the original structure and remaining within the original footprint of the building. A smoke control analysis determined that the project required 16 smoke exhaust fans on the roof to remove smoke during an emergency event. 

CSE: Describe unique security and access control systems you have specified in such facilities. 

Foster: Requests for fire alarm systems with mass notification capabilities have become more frequent. This request may significantly increase the quantity of devices required in order to meet intelligibility requirements associated with mass notification systems. 


Consulting-Specifying Engineer