The impact of a change on the size of the smoke compartment in the evacuation of health care facilities
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AuthorAlonso Gutiérrez, Virginia; Cuesta Jiménez, Arturo; Alvear Portilla, Manuel Daniel; Lázaro Urrutia, Mariano
Evacuation in health-care facilities is complex due to the physical impairment of the patients. This kind of evacuation usually requires the assistance of the workforce members. A proposed change of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, would increase the maximum allowable size of a smoke compartment (a space within the building enclosed by smoke barriers on all sides that restricts the movement of smoke) in health-care occupancies from 2090 m2 to 3700 m2, almost double the size. This study aims to analyse the impact of this change in the required time for evacuating patients during a fire in order to understand the consequences of that potential change. This paper is focused on the area where the patient?s rooms are located. The evacuation scenario is a floor plan comprised of four smoke compartments. To analyse the proposed change, the smoke barriers between two adjacent compartments were removed in a floor plan and three ratios of number of patients per one staff member were considered (4:1, 3:1 and 2:1). A computational methodology was conducted to calibrate the model STEPS for simulating assisted evacuation processes. In addition, Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS) was used to simulate the fire and smoke spread in a table and a PC to compare fire and evacuation results The evacuation results show that the change of the smoke compartment size increases the mean evacuation time by 23%; however, the fire results show that the available safe egress time is 16 min for both smaller and large smoke compartment. The ratio of the number of patients per staff member is also a strong factor that increases the evacuation up to 82% when comparing the ratios of 2 patients per staff member and 4 patients per staff member.
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