The recently adopted objective-based version of the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) offers the opportunity for the construction of buildings of wood or hybrid construction with areas and heights beyond those spelled out in the prescriptive (or acceptable) solutions within the NBCC. This can be accomplished by developing an alternative solution in which one or more of the fire protection features in the building is upgraded beyond what is specified in the acceptable solutions. In order to take full advantage of the introduction of objective-based codes, an NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Fire Safety Engineering was established at Carleton University in 2001 to address the need for design tools. The chair’s research was funded jointly by NSERC and FPInnovations. By the end of the Chair’s first five-year term, which ended December 31, 2005, a prototype engineering tool called CUrisk had been developed. The model calculates the expected-risk-to-life presented by fire and the fire-cost-expectation over the lifetime of a building. It accounted for the probability of initiation of fire in a building, the subsequent performance of all the fire protection features in the building and the actions of occupants as they evacuate the building. However it was still very much a prototype model with need for refinements before it could be deemed a design tool.
This project was initiated in 2006 to mirror the second term of the NSERC Chair’s research program and thereby enable FPInnovations fire scientists to assist the Chair in carrying out his research. The overall goals for the Chair’s research were to refine CUrisk in order to convert it from a research tool into a design tool, and to fine-tune it to be applicable to specific occupancies such as wood-frame hotels and motels, retail stores, open-plan office buildings, churches and warehouses. Much progress has been made towards these goals in the first four years of his second term. In fact, the revised version of CUrisk has been successfully employed by a Carleton University student to undertake a fire-safety assessment of a multi-use four-storey wood-frame building. It is anticipated that, by the completion of his second term on December 31, 2010, CUrisk will be sufficiently mature for use by the Chair in the design of buildings. After more experience is gained with the tool, it will be circulated for use by the research community.
This report also outlines how FPInnovations scientists have assisted the Chair in delivering the academic component of his Fire Safety Engineering Program. This has included the delivery of graduate courses, supervision of graduate students and delivery of lectures in Short Courses designed for practicing engineers.
From the outset it was recognised that much of the research proposed for the 2nd term of the NSERC Chair would be addressed by graduate students supervised by the Chair with assistance from FPInnovations fire scientists. Until the end of 2009-2010, the actual activities of the students have been captured in the Final Report for project CFS No. 5 Support for Research Studies by Engineering Students (FPInnovations Project 20100303). However, it has become evident that the students’ projects typically address deliverables in the Chair’s research program. Consequently a decision has been taken to close this project in order to merge it with CFS No. 05 effective April 1, 2010. This work will continue under the project name “Support for Fire Safety Design Tools and Research” in 2010/11.