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Blog: Creating a Life Safety Workflow Within Revit

As an Architect or Architectural Project Manager, one of the most important things you can do is perform a Life Safety Analysis on your project. Learning how to navigate through the series of International Building Code (IBC) books is typically a class all by itself in college. Important design decisions must be made based on the IBC, life safety decisions.

This Life Safety Analysis should typically happen during the Schematic Design (SD) phase and lead into the Construction Documents (CD) phase. Not too long ago, before BIM and Revit, this analysis was a time-consuming process. In AutoCAD, you would have to pline each room to get an area and draw a pline for a path of travel- that was the extent of the analysis within the program. All other analysis was done with a pen, paper, and a calculator. Now, with many of the tools available for Revit, life safety analysis has never been easier. Analysis can occur from very early in the Design Development phase and continue to be altered and modified throughout the design. This blog will cover the Life Safety Analysis workflow using Revit 2020 and some of the analysis tools within the CTC Tools BIM Project Suite.

LIFE SAFETY INFORMATION SHEET

In my projects, I typically have a building code information sheet and a life safety plan sheet for each floor of the project. It is important to organize your code information sheet in a way that will be easy for the Fire Marshal or Municipal Code Reviewer to find the information they are looking for in the fastest way possible. My information sheet, for example, was developed in conjunction with the State of Oklahoma Fire Marshal and is organized by IBC Chapter. Using headings with IBC references, shading and varying font sizes, the sheet is clear, concise, and easy to find the information you need.

 

LIFE SAFETY WORKFLOW

My life safety workflow is to follow through each section of the information sheet. Then I am sure not to miss anything. In Revit, I make sure to have all my room areas inserted, tagged, and named. The first thing you need to do is calculate your occupancy. Almost every code compliance item depends on your area and your occupancies.

There are two types of occupancy to calculate- building occupancy and room occupancy. The building occupancy takes the total area of a building divided by the maximum floor area allowances per occupant. This number is referenced in the IBC 2009, Chapter 10, Table 1004.1.1. For a Business Occupancy, this number is 100 sq. ft. gross. So, for a 1,000 sq. ft. room, the building occupancy would be 10 people.

The room occupancy is a little different. It calculates the occupancy of each room individually. Sometimes, if the room usage was not obviously named, then you would have to consult with the owner on its uses. This method still uses the “area / floor area per occupant = occupancy” calculation.

Life Safety Tool: Occupancy Flow Analyzer

Calculating the Occupancy of your building used to be a long process. The analysis required knowing the area and the occupancy type of each room. Then you would calculate the room occupancy and add all the occupancy of all the rooms to get a total occupancy. But now, using CTC Tools within Revit, you can calculate your occupancy flow, your occupancy per room, your total occupancy using some Room Tag Parameters, an Occupancy Schedule and more.

Learn more about this here:

 

Life Safety Tool: Path of Travel

The Exit Access Travel Distance, IBC Section 1016, Table 1016.1, identifies code required travel distance by occupancy. Previously, in Revit, you would have to draw lines, check the length in the properties and add the totals together. Or export your plan to dwg, import into AutoCAD and draw plines for your paths.

Now, there are two ways to accomplish this within Revit. In Revit 2020, Path of Travel was introduced as a new tool. It works but can only calculate paths on one level. The other way is with CTC Tools BIM Suite Occupancy Flow Analyzer. It can calculate your shortest path, multiple critical paths, and even on multiple floors.

Learn more about this here:

 

Life Safety Tool: Fire Protection Systems Parametric Families

For fire protection systems, its important to make sure I have the correct number of extinguishers and that the travel distance between each meets code. Reference International Fire Code (IFC) Chapter 9, Table 906.3(1), for a table on Fire Extinguishers.

Maximum travel distance to an extinguisher is 75 feet. So, we are going to add a travel distance parameter to our fire cabinet family so we can determine where we need extinguishers.

Learn more about this here:

 

Life Safety Tool: Occupancy Schedule

With CTC Tools Spreadsheet Link and the Occupancy Flow Analyzer, creating a Room Occupancy Schedule has never been easier. Create a new schedule, insert the desired fields and when you run the Flow Analyzer, your occupancy are filled in automatically.

Learn more about this here:

 

Life Safety Tool: Plumbing Fixtures Schedule

The last tool we will look at today is also located in the CTC Tools BIM Suite, Schedule XL. Schedule XL allows you create schedule views from one or more worksheets in one or more spreadsheets. One major advantage is that the tool works just like a spreadsheet. You can copy, paste, drag cells, modify values, enter formulas and more. In this instance though, I am going to show you a plumbing fixture schedule, created through Schedule XL and that it ties into the Occupancy Flow Analyzer results we created earlier.

Learn more about this here:

 

In conclusion, with the tools Revit and CTC provides, your Life Safety Analysis workflow can be easier, faster, and accurate. With all these features, how can you afford to not update to Revit 2020 and install CTC Tools BIM Suite 2020? BIM Suite has a 14-day free trial. Try BIM Suite out and you will be purchasing it after you see how much time you will save!

If you have any questions, comments or even requests for additional technical content, contact your Account Executive, or email whyatg@atgusa.com.

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