Risk Assesment

Building and equipment collapse mode (Diagnosis, design, model and review)

Regardless of the type of buildings (storage, industrial) or the kind of structure (steel, concrete, wood), Efectis has the capabilities to perform Fire Safety Engineering (FSE) studies for the assessment of building collapse modes.

Generally, the FSE study, which is based on a performance-based approach, aims to verify the following requirements:

  • No failure of the structure onto the external part of the building,
  • No failure of the adjacent block of the building,
  • Fire development and structural behavior of the structure must be compatible with the evacuation of the occupants and the firefighting actions.

Analyses are based on modeling of fire development and fire spreading in order to predict tolerances and structural behavior of the building (use of the advanced method according to Fire Part of Eurocodes when applicable).

The different steps of calculations use specific modeling tools such as: fire development tools (simplified model, zone model, CFD model like FDS), Finite Element Model code for heat transfer (SAFIR, ANSYS) and Finite Element Model code for fire mechanical calculations (SAFIR, ANSYS, LENAS).

IKEA storage buildings fire scenario modeling

Fire behavior of steel clad-rack structure of cells “silos”

Building vulnerability and reinforcement against toxicity, thermal and explosion effects

In critical hazards such as boil-over, BLEVE, flash-fire, pool fire, jet-fire and explosions on an industrial site, a petrochemical site or a power plant, toxicity, thermal and explosion domino effects inside and outside the site can have disastrous consequences to the surroundings. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the risks and consequences for buildings, facilities and people.

Efectis can assess the vulnerability of your facilities, and define the best solutions to reinforce your installations, to manage the risks for people. We offer an overall structured approach to the problem:

  • Step 1 – Characterization of effects:
    • Identification of dangerous phenomena
    • Characterization of phenomena (type, intensity, duration)
  • Step 2 – Characterization of structures (buildings and facilities):
    • Ad-hoc survey
  • Step 3 – Vulnerability diagnosis according to the parts of the building (roof, facades, etc.) and types of effects
    • Explosion effects: Dynamic mechanical calculation
    • Thermal effects: Heat transfer calculation and fluid dynamics calculations
    • Toxic effects: Permeability measurements and calculation
  • Step 4 – Definition and optimization of reinforcement work:
    • Technical and economic feasibility
    • Estimated cost

Efectis supports owners and contractors in order to:

  • Design and define the technical specifications of construction (new projects),
  • Perform detailed diagnoses and define reinforcement work (existing buildings).

Building and equipment seismic analysis (Diagnosis, design, model and review)

For the French market only

Earthquakes are one of the most lethal natural risks and those which cause most damage. From 1994 to 2004, earthquakes resulted in over 200,000 casualties throughout the world. According to the French environmental code (articles R. 563-1 to R.563-8), there are two types of structures, “normal risk” and “special risk” structures, referring to a specific earthquake-resistant regulation depending on one or another of these categories.

For these installations, earthquake risk prevention must be subject to a case-by-case study, according to the new order on January 24, 2011 relative to seismic risk. This study should be completed no later than December 31, 2015.

In this context, CTICM and Efectis France have joined forces to offer their expertise in their respective fields in seismic behavior and risk assessment of classified installations. A wide range of services is thus proposed:

  • Inventory of applicable regulatory requirements,
  • Risk analysis of a classified installation, to identify equipment specially at risk, potential domino effects and safety barriers, and define the requirements in terms of performance,
  • Diagnosis of seismic vulnerability (on-site) of industrial equipment and buildings,
  • Seismic behavior engineering simulations and definition of protective measures,
  • Technico-economic analysis of the ways of improvement,
  • Technical assistance in constituting administrative files.

Fire risk analysis of power plants and nuclear installations (NNP, R&D center, Laboratory…)

For more than 10 years, Efectis has performed fire risk studies for nuclear operators. A fire risk study contains both a deterministic hazard analysis, and fire modeling studies in order to assess the level of risk, and determine appropriate fire protection solutions.

A fire risk study of an installation consists in considering that a fire can occur in any premises of the installation. Based on two important parameters: first, the risk of the development and spread of fire and secondly, the presence of targets in the premises, the potential consequences for the nuclear safety of the installation in the case of fire are determined. A fire risk study includes:

  • A qualitative study of fire risks,
  • A quantitative study of fire development.

Efectis has also established a new process of risk analysis, with if necessary, advanced calculations.

Efectis performs fire stability studies for nuclear operators. In most cases, the initial requirements for structural stability are based on the standard ISO-fire curve over two hours. This approach is relatively simple and conservative. When the fire test is passed there is usually no requirement to investigate further. However, when the initial requirements against the standard fire curve cannot be satisfied (which is the case for most of the unprotected steel structures, and also for some concrete units), the performance is then assessed on the current fire risk. This approach can be called a “real fire structural analysis”. Assessment is also requested when ISO-fire rating is satisfied if the real thermal actions may be more severe than the standard fire curve in terms of intensity or duration (e.g. presence of hydrocarbons or high fire load).

Conception, design & modeling (Prescriptive design and performance-based design)

Assessment of performance-based design

The fire safety of a building is determined by the measures taken in architectural and installation provisions, by the daily use of the building, and by the way in a fire situation that the evacuation of building users is handled. It is important, when determining the fire safety of a building, to always view these four aspects together. When one aspect has a poor score it will have consequences for overall fire safety.

In national regulations for each fire safety aspect requirements are established for both existing buildings and new structures. Distinction is made between:

  • Functional requirements, by which the objective of the regulation is determined,
  • Performance requirements, by which substance is given to the functional requirement; if you meet these performance requirements then you will satisfy the functional requirements.

Compliance with all performance requirements is a way to meet the functional requirements in order to obtain a fireproof building. However, it is also possible to meet the functional requirements with another set of safety measures and to obtain a sufficiently fireproof building. The equivalence of these measures should be proven in that case. We refer to this risk-based assessment as “Proof of equivalent fire safety.”

Efectis can be of your service during the design, implementation, and in the use phase. Listed below are some possible services that Efectis can perform.

Design (new buildings):

  • Assessing compliance with the chosen fire safety measures and meeting the performance requirements of national regulations (= performance assessment).
  • Assessing whether the fire safety measures are correctly included in contract documents.
  • Determining the fire and smoke resistance, not only in height but also in terms of direction and the criteria that apply. This is rarely indicated in a correct manner in the drawings.
  • Assessing whether, in the desired construction, that the required fire/smoke resistance can be met.
  • Assessing whether the desired materials can meet the required Euroclass.
  • Checking the performance of fire and smoke separations during execution.

Use phase (existing buildings):

  • Global site inspection in order to:
    • Obtain insight into the fire safety as a whole
    • Obtain insight into the escape safety for users
    • Obtain insight into the quality of fire and smoke separations
  • Detailed site inspection with the additional purpose (compared to global inspection):
    • Establishing the necessary temporary measures
    • Determining the required long-term measures
  • Specific inspections (for the Netherlands):
    • Performing insurance reviews; we will confirm, along with an insurer, that your building meets the requirements for property insurance and liability insurance.
    • Providing legal advice; we will provide, along with a lawyer, substantive technical advice (on the basis of a global inspection) and legal support. We will answer questions such as the following. “What legal actions should we take? Who is liable for failing to meet the requirements?”

Proof of equivalent fire safety

Buildings and other structures exist and are designed in numerous forms, because conditions and creativity lead to non-standard solutions. Standard rules in regulations often cannot cope with this. Buildings with non-standard solutions in most countries are therefore judged to provide equivalent safety, which is a fire safety level equivalent to the level provided by standard solutions.

Analyzing and assessing risks is an integral part of any certification of equivalence. This may be a simple risk comparison of two options, a full-fledged quantitative risk assessment, or anything in between. The number of existing risk assessment methods is ever growing; Efectis can perform many of them.

The equivalent safety approach especially applies for complex and large buildings (high-rise buildings, stadiums), infrastructures (tunnels, parking garages), means of transport (subways, ships), industrial structures, in external safety, and where new products or systems play an important role in safety.

Efectis does all sorts of equivalent safety assessments for all types of structures. Many are assessments of proposed solutions. Others are investigations into the feasibility of products and systems to provide equivalent solutions, which may be combined with optimizing the products and systems themselves.

The assessment may consist of modelling, calculating and/or testing of construction behavior, fire development, smoke spread and evacuation, for example. The assessments may be linked to legal requirements, to standards separate from legal requirements, or to contract requirements.

In the end the question is: “does it provide equivalent fire safety?” Efectis can provide the answer.

Smoke and heat exhaust systems analysis, design and review

Fire Safety Engineering is recognized as a real alternative to the usual descriptive approach, and currently used all over the world in elaborating an overall fire safety strategy in a building.

The engineering approach gives greater flexibility to architects and contractors in designing complex or innovative buildings, and provides an appropriate tool in the refurbishment of buildings to make them comply with regulations, such as historic buildings.

Engineering smoke control studies can be useful in cases of non-compliance with regulations such as:

  • Smoke extraction less than required,
  • Smokescreen size smaller than required,
  • Ceiling higher than required,
  • Limited fresh air intake,
  • Several superimposed open levels,
  • Assessment of active smoke control systems (jet-fan, smoke curtain, air curtain, etc.)

Efectis performs smoke spread modeling to assess the conditions for evacuating people according to tolerance criteria (toxicity, opacity, temperature and heat radiation of smoke). This analysis drives the choice of the most appropriate smoke exhaust systems to implement, or justifies the effectiveness of smoke exhaust systems, despite their non-conformity to the usual descriptive approach.

Our method is a performance-based approach in close relationship with rescue services in order to define and validate the reference fire scenarios to be studied:

  • Step 1: Fire risk analysis of the building and its smoke evacuation system
  • Step 2: Definition of safety objectives and their related performance-based criteria
  • Step 3: Definition and characterization of reference fire scenarios
  • Step 4: Validation of reference fire scenarios by the competent authorities
  • Step 5: Fire scenario modeling and results analysis
  • Step 6: Conclusions on the effectiveness of smoke evacuation systems
  • Step 7: Analysis of improvements in case of non-conformity to the safety objectives
  • Step 8: Presentation of study conclusions to the competent authorities

Fire Protection Design

To combat the risk of fire one must understand the extent and nature of the fire hazards present and then design systems to address these risks. The fire scientists and fire protection engineers at Efectis are fire behavior and systems design experts.

Prescriptive Design: The majority of projects are governed by regulatory requirements that mandate the use of active fire detection and suppression systems. Efectis specializes in conventional and unconventional fire protection system design including:

  • Fire Alarm/Mass Notification System Design (NFPA 72)
  • Water Based Fire Suppression
  • Automatic Sprinkler/Standpipe (NFPA 13, EN12845)
  • Water Spray (NFPA 15)
  • Water Mist (NFPA 750)
  • Special Hazards
  • Wet and Dry Chemical (NFPA 17)
  • Clean Agent (NFPA 12, NFPA 2001)
  • Combustible Metals

The nature and level of detail of detail provided by Efectis will vary depending upon the needs of the project. Efectis can produce everything from performance specification documents to full shop level submittals. In all cases Efectis led designs clearly identify the scope of the project in detail which ensures more competitive bids and fewer potential change orders.

Performance Based Design: Some facilities like public transit systems, sports arenas, large atriums, and industrial sites often require special analysis to identify and mitigate risks. The fire scientists and fire protection engineers at Efectis draw upon decades of fire modeling and fire testing experience to quantify the risks and use that expertise to develop customized solutions. Some of the performance based design services that Efectis provides includes, but is not limited to:

  • Fire & Smoke Behavior modeling
  • Calculated Fire resistance modeling
  • Fire Loss estimation
  • Smoke management system design
  • Stairwell Pressurization
  • Atrium Exhaust
  • Timed egress analysis

For those facilities that need to truly understand the potential fire hazards and associated risks, Efectis provides global expertise.

Egress analysis: design, model and review

The increasing complexity of buildings, in relationship to size and configuration, requires particular attention to the problems surrounding egress conditions. Several methods may be used to analyze the escape possibilities of a building such as simple calculation and modeling to solve more complex scenarios. The main parameter in egress analysis is the evacuation time, which depends on many factors, such as reaction time, walking speed, choice of exit, size of doors and staircases, obstacles, and the consequences of spreading smoke.

The main purpose of evacuation modeling is to provide accurate evaluation, to propose innovative solutions for optimization of a building design, and to find the critical locations in an existing building.

109_Riskassesment4

Fire behavior of materials and structures

Building regulations define the ways and methods for the assessment of fire resistance of buildings, structures and materials (fire test standards, Eurocodes …), and usually propose an alternative to the prescriptive approach that is Fire Safety Engineering (FSE). This alternative is based on performance-based approach/design and consists of assessing fire resistance of structures under real/natural fires (as opposed to standard fire curves).

Efectis has the skills and the advanced modeling tools and the experimental facilities for the assessment of the fire performance of construction products and structures.

Fire laboratory for 40 years, Efectis performs fire resistance studies of structure, and takes into account:

  • Standard ISO fire curve (prescriptive approach),
  • Real/natural fire curve with a FSE approach.

These studies are relative to all kind of buildings (public buildings, high rise buildings, nuclear facilities, tunnels, etc.) and all kind of structures (steel, concrete, wood, and mixed).

They are performed according to simplified or advanced methods such as the fire part of Eurocodes and according to the following general methodology:

Studies under standard ISO fire curve

(prescriptive approach)

Studies under real/natural fire curve

(FSE)

  • Step 1: Thermal transfer calculations
  • Step 2: Fire Mechanical calculations
  • Step 1: Fire risk analysis
  • Step 2: Selection of design fire scenarios
  • Step 3: Fire development calculations
  • Step 4: Thermal transfer calculations
  • Step 5: Fire Mechanical calculation

 

The different steps of calculations use specific modeling tools such as: fire development tools (simplified model, zone model, CFD model like FDS), Finite Element Model code for heat transfer (SAFIR, ANSYS) and Finite Element Model code for fire mechanical calculations (SAFIR, ANSYS, LENAS).

17_bis134Riskassesment5

Study on fire resistance of steel structure of a tower

Third-party evaluations

Inspection, testing, commissioning and certification

Efectis fire scientists and fire protection engineers can provide a wide range of Technical Assistance, Fire/Life Safety System Construction Administration, Testing/Commissioning and Certification Services. Efectis has extensive experience with:

  • Code Compliance Verification: Being able to demonstrate that an existing building is code compliant is critical in many healthcare, educational and industrial occupancies. The Code Consultants at Efectis can assist by performing:
    • Life Safety Code Survey and Evaluations: Typically provided for healthcare Statement of Conditions documentation or other similar review
    • Fire Safety Evaluation System (FSES): Where facilities are not in strict compliance with the code, Efectis can assist facilities to demonstrate relative safety through the use of this alternative method.
    • Industrial Fire Hazard Surveys: Industrial occupancies are governed by a wide range of codes and standards and ignorance of the law is no excuse! Failure to operate in accordance with the law and industry best practices assumes risks that can lead to a significant loss. Efectis has global experience in evaluating industrial facilities and can help identify and mitigate the potential hazards.
  • Plan/design review services for:
    • Water based fire suppression systems
    • Fire alarm / Mass Communication Systems
    • Special Suppression
  • Fire testing and research
  • Third party review/testing
    • Fire-proofing/fire-stopping
    • Fire Alarm/Mass Notification Systems
      • Commissioning
      • Voice Intelligibility
    • Smoke Control Systems
      • Stair Pressurization
      • Large Volume Smoke Exhaust
    • Fire loss investigation
      • Cause and Origin
      • Expert Review and Testimony regarding
      • Code Compliance
      • System design
    • System Maintenance

Fire behavior

Most often starting fires will not result in a fully developed fire. In some instances fires will spread. Within natural fire development three phases are recognized. The development or growth phase where a small fire increases and fills a room with smoke and heat leading to a phase of a fully developed fire though a flash-over. When all fuel for the fire is depleted the fire will go into a decay phase.

Various aspects influence the development of a fire in a building, some of these are:

  • Types of material and means of construction
  • Geometry of a room
  • Installations that influence the movement of heat and smoke
  • Available oxygen
  • Suppression systems like sprinkler systems
  • Interior setup and placement throughout the room

With our knowledge of fire behavior, material behavior, and ventilation we can help to model possible fire development according to the standard t2-development curve. Because this curve is limited in its field of application Efectis can help to develop suitable fire scenarios for

  • 3-dimentional fire development (spread of fire in height as with storage warehouses)
  • Fire development in more than one place (arson or falling burning materials)
  • When low oxygen levels occur in a room and there are possibilities of backdraft.

Smoke control

Fire Safety Engineering is recognized as a real alternative to the usual prescriptive approach, and currently used all over the world in developing an overall fire safety strategy in a building.

The engineering approach gives greater flexibility to architects and contractors in designing complex or innovative buildings, and provides an appropriate tool in the refurbishment of buildings to make them comply with regulations, such as historic buildings.

Engineering smoke control studies can be useful in cases of non-compliance with regulations such as:

  • Smoke extracts smaller than required
  • Smokescreen size smaller than required
  • Ceiling higher than required
  • Limited fresh air intake
  • Several superimposed open levels
  • Assessment of active smoke control systems (jet-fan, smoke curtain, air curtain, etc.)

Efectis performs smoke spread modeling to assess the conditions for evacuating people according to tenability criteria (toxicity, opacity, temperature and heat radiation of smoke). This analysis directs the choice of the most appropriate smoke exhaust systems to implement, or justifies the effectiveness of smoke exhaust systems, despite their non-conformity to the usual descriptive approach.

Shopping Center modeling and on-site real scale test

 Risk analysis

Operators of hazardous sites may wish to or must perform, in accordance with local regulations, a hazard study to assess the impact of the facilities on the environment and the surroundings and to guarantee that risks are under control. As part of regulatory process, the authorities having jurisdiction over the site may require a third-party analysis of all or part of the hazard studies, in order to obtain an independent expert analysis.

Efectis has been carrying out third-party analysis of hazardous sites for more than 10 years. Our service focuses in particular on the critical analysis of:

  • The risk analysis method used
  • Preventive measures and protection used to prevent accidents and limit their consequences
  • The accidental scenarios chosen
  • Calculation methods and tools used to assess consequences on the environment (toxicity, thermal and explosion effects)
  • Domino effects on facilities (explosion and thermal effects)
  • Effectiveness of active and passive fire protection systems (sprinklers – fire doors – smoke extraction – partitioning elements – etc.)

Technical Assistance

Fire protection building design

Proof of equivalent fire safety

Buildings and other structures exist and are designed in numerous forms, because conditions and creativity lead to non-standard solutions. Standard rules in regulations often cannot cope with this. Buildings with non-standard solutions in most countries are therefore judged to provide equivalent safety, which is a fire safety level equivalent to the level provided by standard solutions.

Analyzing and assessing risks is an integral part of any certification of equivalence. This may be a simple risk comparison of two options, a full-fledged quantitative risk assessment, or anything in between. The number of existing risk assessment methods is ever growing; Efectis can perform many of them.

The equivalent safety approach especially applies for complex and large buildings (high-rise buildings, stadiums), infrastructures (tunnels, parking garages), means of transport (subways, ships), industrial structures, in external safety, and where new products or systems play an important role in safety.

Efectis does all sorts of equivalent safety assessments for all types of structures. Many are assessments of proposed solutions. Others are investigations into the feasibility of products and systems to provide equivalent solutions, which may be combined with optimizing the products and systems themselves.

The assessment may consist of modelling, calculating and/or testing of construction behavior, fire development, smoke spread and evacuation, for example. The assessments may be linked to legal requirements, to standards separate from legal requirements, or to contract requirements.

In the end the question is: “does it provide equivalent fire safety?” Efectis can provide the answer.

  • Assessment of performance-based design
  • Comparison of safety level of different solutions

Code consultancy : code evaluation, compliance review, conflict resolution

A failure to identify and demonstrate code compliance creates risks that can hamper a project’s progress and/or subjects a facility to undue operational and legal risks. There is no reason for a project or facility to be subjected to this risk!

Efectis’ code experts work as a part of your team to help incorporate the design details needed to comply with the codes and standards, no matter how unique the project. Whether you need to comply with a version of the ICC Code family, NFPA’s Life Safety Code (NFPA 101) and/or other locally adopted codes, standards or specifications, Efectis’ consultants have the experience to assist you.

  • Facility Design: Efectis has developed three products that allow everyone to focus on what really matters—the functional and operational needs of the owner.
    • Code Compliance Narratives summarize all of the major Building and Fire Safety requirements applicable to the project and how compliance will be achieved. Two revisions of the document are typical; The draft document serves as compliance verification and decision making tool for the design team. The final document is intended to be submitted to the reviewers as part of the design document package to make the plan review process substantially easier.
    • Code Compliance Plans are a sub-set of the design documents. These drawings illustrate the critical Building and Fire Safety design features including: construction type, height and area, rated construction, occupant load calculations, egress routes and capacity, travel distances, and other related features. (ADA and plumbing fixture capacity can also be included as an option)
    • Code Summary Matrix is a management tool created for use by project managers to identify each critical code compliance item, assign responsibility by disciplines or individually, track its status, and create an index to the drawings/documents that demonstrate compliance.
  • Variance/Equivalency Development and Negotiation: Need to incorporate new technology or unique design features not otherwise covered by the codes? Efectis’ code experts have the experience to help your project team develop a design approach that achieves the code’s intent and in doing so develops the documentation and presentation needed to submit the concepts for approval.