NFPA 101 2012 Edition Atrium Design: New & Existing, Retro Commissioning, Commissioning and Maintenance

Michael A. Crowley, PE, FSFPE, FASHE, Jensen Hughes, Inc.
Joseph Beadle, CFPS, AHJ – RPA, a JENSEN HUGHES Company

Life Safety Code and Building Code requirements have changed in the atrium smoke control design over the years. This presentation will describe the major atrium design criteria from previous NFPA 101 and Building Code. Prescriptive atrium designs were allowed in the past. The test of the old designs are significantly different than the current performance criteria. In 1988, an atrium would be designed to 4 or 6 air changes per hour based on the volume. In 2018, the atrium will be designed to maintain a smoke layer 6 ft. above the highest walking surface for the time to egress, or 20 minutes. This performance design is based on potential fire size and height of the smoke layer. Testing methods for the newer designs demonstrate performance of the system complies with the design calculations. Testing does not use any form of smoke or test gases. New and existing systems will be compared. The major concern of owners is the smoke control system status. Does it work as designed? We will discuss testing for retro commissioning, commissioning or testing. We have found the owner lacks the initial start-up testing and documentation. So retro commissioning may be needed to create the documentation trail for the atrium. Annual testing should be part of the fire alarm and detection system testing. Verification of fan starts and flow rates should be confirmed. The documentation and follow-up needed will be reviewed. This presentation will cover the key issues for smoke control commissioning testing and documentation.

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