Vulcan Initiative

The Vulcan Initiative is a website dedicated to help the Fire Protection Engineering community with the application of Performance-Based Fire Protection Design (PBFPD) option.

This website was set up around a new risk-informed PBFPD process, which aim is to assess how fire events affect the overall performance of a system formed by specific building types and their associated occupants (called "building-occupant" systems). This new process contains technical steps that are separated from the ones where project oriented decisions are taken by the considered stakeholders. This separation allows Fire Protection Engineers (FPEs) after gathering the characteristics of the system to study, to independently treat fire events in a straightforward manner and propose their fire protection feature sets to the stakeholders for their final approval. The approval is based on documents showing the results of a fire risk analysis, the evaluation of the fire protection features in the system and a cost-benefit analysis of these features.

Guidelines associated with each technical step of the new PBFPD process have to be developed for specific "building-occupant" systems. Generic guidance was necessary to present the PBFPD approach when it was originally proposed to the FPEs and the code policy makers. Nevertheless, this generic attribute turned to be a challenge for the application of the PBFPD option, and it led to the need for more specific guidance.

The Vulcan Initiative has been created in order to be the repository of all the information gathered, from the needed research to the establishment of the guidelines elaborated for specific "building-occupant" systems.

The Vulcan Initiative is aimed to facilitate the exchange of information between the different actions of the PBFPD process: Fire Protection Engineers (FPEs), stakeholders, decision policy makers, and researchers. Participation of Academia is also welcome as teachers can use the information provided here as a technical resource and course projects and the students can upload their reports in an active effort to improve database contents or the use of models.

The Vulcan Initiative is organized according to the PBFPD process. Except the step related to the evaluation of the integration of the fire protection measures in the system, each step of the process requires the quantification of information. This information is estimated using dedicated tools which output is the requited information. Input data is necessary for the use of tools and therefore this requires the establishment of relevant databases. Validation of tools is a concern across the FPE community. The extension of validation domains is often associated with costly experiments. It would be time consuming to increase the current validation domains up to their application domains. Since the PBFPD process is an engineering one, the validation domains need to encompass the engineering domain limited by the specific systems characteristics and their associated issues, i.e. engineering problems related to fire events affecting these systems. Within the Vulcan Initiative, 'test bed' environments are then created in order to ultimately create guidelines related to the appropriateness of tools and their associated databases to be used to solve specific issues concerning specific "building-occupant" systems.

Clicking on each of the technical step in the banner will send you to a page describing the corresponding step.

Clicking on "Info" will open a sub-menu composed of a "forum" where you can post and review threads associated with the Vulcan Initiative, of a "how to participate" and of the lists of participants and their current actions.

Alberto Alvarez - WPI (2012-09-28)