Performance Based Design

Museum Smoke Detection Analysis

Evaluation of alternative layout of smoke detectors



Unique architectural features of the museum (exposed deep beam pockets) resulted in conditions where following the prescriptive requirements for smoke detector layout was not economically feasible. The prescriptive requirements of The National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) dictate that spot-type smoke detectors are provided within every beam pocket. The result is more than double the number of smoke detectors required otherwise.


We performed fire and egress modeling to demonstrate that an alternative arrangement of smoke detectors was consistent with the performance objectives of the prescriptive code. Through a holistic performance-based design analysis, we quantified likely fire scenarios, modeled smoke movement to predict smoke detector response, and simulated occupant evacuation. The analysis allowed us to leverage the advanced detection capabilities of air-aspirating (VESDA) smoke detection and maintain architectural features without undue economic impact.

Bottom Line

50% reduction in the total number of smoke detection locations

Improved detection of smoldering, low heat release rate fires 

Significant construction cost savings

Services Provided

Performance Based Design


National FIre Alarm Code (NFPA 72) - Section

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