Smoke Control Design

Smoke Control Design

As evidenced by a number of catastrophic fires, most notably the MGM Grand in 1981, the inhalation of the toxic gases and particulate matter in smoke is the leading cause of fire-related deaths. On the surface, this may be a surprising assertion considering fire is often imagined primarily in terms of extreme heat. Although exposure to such heat is certainly hazardous and potentially lethal, the far-reaching ability of smoke to simultaneously expose a much larger populace is important to understand. Perhaps the best example of relevant loss history occurred at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1981. The fire began in an unsprinklered deli on the Casino level of the high-rise and quickly consumed large amounts of plastic interior finish. Despite the fact that flames were generally confined to this lower level of the building, smoke spread throughout the structure.

Lethal concentrations of smoke permeated the MGM Grand for a number of reasons, which are important building blocks for the requirements found in modern building codes and standards. First and foremost, the initial fire was allowed to grow unchecked by sprinklers, which provided only limited coverage in the building. Second, the building's normal HVAC system operated in non-emergency mode throughout the incident thereby efficiently distributing toxic fumes throughout the hotel. Lastly, the building was not well compartmentalized. Large holes in shaft walls allowed a phenomenon known as the stack effect to play a significant role in smoke transport.

Creative FPE Solutions offers a wealth of experience in the preparation of Rational Analysis reports for high-rise buildings, covered malls, atria, underground buildings, assembly occupancies and hospitals. The general approach to these systems includes the optimization of ventilation and confinement strategies using state-of-the-art fire modeling software including Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), CONTAM and FAST. The expertise necessary to analytically apply these tools and communicate the results will save time and money in the field through early identification and resolution of issues.

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  • Society of Fire Protection Engineers
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