Atrium smoke control systems built during the 1980s and ’90s are commonly found in buildings at colleges and universities throughout the United States. These legacy systems were designed prior to the development of performance-based codes and are based on simplistic approaches that do not include many of today’s best smoke control practices. Proactive colleges and universities are concerned about the adequacy of these aging smoke control systems to protect their students in a fire event. In these cases, educational institutions want to know if their smoke control system would meet today’s current codes or at least provide the same level of safety — and if not, what system improvements or changes would be needed to meet today’s standards?
Evaluating legacy systems under today’s current codes often presents the challenge of documentation gaps. Basic questions needed to properly evaluate a system may be unknown, such as the code of record, the system’s performance objectives, design assumptions, maintenance/testing history, sequence of operations, exhaust/make-up air fan capacities, and the location of one-hr fire rated separation.