A New Fire Protection Framework that Incorporates Fire Risk Indexing for Developing and Evaluating Alternative Solutions for Canadian Heritage Rehabilitation Projects
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Heritage buildings in Canada are a cultural resource that bear witness to Canada's defining moments and form a link to the past . Several heritage buildings in Canada sit empty or underutilized and would benefit from rehabilitation so that they can be used for modern occupancies. From a fire protection standpoint, rehabilitation of heritage buildings in Canada is very challenging due to two major obstacles: 1) balancing heritage protection and fire protection requirements, and 2) evaluating alternative solutions for compliance. The first relates to the overlapping priorities of heritage protection and fire protection of the building. The fire protection codes and standards in Canada are rooted in prescriptive requirements that are generally written with new construction in mind and with the objectives and functional statements behind provisions provided. Heritage buildings cannot be unilaterally upgraded to meet requirements of the current fire protection codes and standards because often times, the required changes will alter the heritage character of the building. In order to develop alternative solutions that address both heritage and fire protection objectives during rehabilitation of a heritage building, alternative fire protection frameworks, tools, knowledge and experience have to be used. The second obstacle then becomes how these alternative solutions should be evaluated to assess whether the final design is code compliant or not. Development of a fire protection framework for managing heritage rehabilitation projects under federal jurisdiction in Canada that addresses these two issues forms the main focus of this research. Prescriptive, objective and performance based codes were reviewed for their strengths and weaknesses for use in design of fire protection strategies for heritage rehabilitation projects. It was concluded that the objective-based framework that forms the basis of the current NBC and NFC provides an excellent platform on which to frame the approach to an alternative solution. Evaluation of fire risk assessment methods led to the conclusion that fire risk indices are the best way to evaluate alternative solutions. The final framework is tested through the use of three case studies. These case studies demonstrate that through application of fire risk indices, stakeholders can utilize fire science, combined with their knowledge and experience, to compare relative fire risks of an alternative solution to those of a prescriptive solution, allowing for a structured way to argue for code compliance of an alternative design. This thesis recommends the continued use of this framework in heritage rehabilitation projects for the design of fire protection strategies in order to refine the values for specific fire risk indices identified in this work, as well as to identify and document new fire risk indices that may be required, along with the science and rationale behind each. It is expected that centralizing the information obtained through sustained use of the framework developed here will benefit the fire protection community by sharing knowledge and experience garnered from working through these types of projects.
Cite this work
Sai-Yum Simon Lee (2018). A New Fire Protection Framework that Incorporates Fire Risk Indexing for Developing and Evaluating Alternative Solutions for Canadian Heritage Rehabilitation Projects. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12978