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An Introduction to Fire Protection Engineering for Buildings

J. Paul Guyer, P.E., R.A., Fellow ASCE, Fellow AEI

Course Outline

I.  The five fundamental elements of fire protection engineering

            A.  Building materials and design
            B.  Water supply for fire protection
            C.  Fire extinguishing systems
            D.  Fire alarm systems
            E.  Special occupancies and hazards

II.  Building materials and design
            A.  Basic criteria
            B.  Fire areas
            C.  Height limitations
            D.  Interior fire spread
            E.  Egress
            F.  Interior finishes
            G.  Insulation
            H.  Roof coverings
            I.    Roof and fire department access
            J.   Air handling
            K.  Plastic pipe and conduit
            L.  Fire retardant wood products

III.  Water supply

            A.  Demand for sprinklered facilities
            B.  Demand for unsprinklered facilities
            C.  Pressure requirements
            D.  Required quantities and on-site storage
            E.   Fire pumps
            F.   Distribution systems
IV.  Fire extinguishing systems

            A.  Automatic sprinkler systems
            B.  Foam (AFFF) systems
            C.  Standpipes
            D.  Dry chemical systems
            E.   Carbon dioxide systems
            F.   Halon 1301 systems
            G.  Portable extinguishers

V.  Fire alarm systems

            A.  Detection systems
            B.  Reporting systems
            C.  Evacuation systems

VI.  Special occupancies and hazards

            A.  In general
            B.  Housing
            C.  Food preparation
            D.  Medical facilities
            E.  Libraries
            F.  Child care facilities
            G.  Electronics and telecommunications facilities
            H.  Warehouses
            I.    Waterfront facilities
            J.   Petroleum fuel storage
            K.  Aircraft maintenance facilities
            L.   Others

VII.  Occupancy hazard classification system

            A.  Light
            B.  Ordinary hazard 1
            C.  Ordinary hazard 2
            D.  Special occupancies

VIII.  Fire flow demand for unsprinklered facilities

IX.  Performance based fire safety design

X.  Codes and other professional resources

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

Architectural, civil, structural, mechanical and electrical engineers engaged in the design of buildings and related infrastructure will find this a valuable opportunity to better understand how the principles of fire protection engineering affect their daily practice.

Benefit for Attendee

Participants will receive an introduction to the principles of fire protection engineering and learn how they affect the various technical disciplines that make up the building design team.  Participants will be able to participate in the building design process more efficiently and effectively, and will thereby improve their career value to their public agency and private company employers.

Course Introduction

Fire protection engineering impacts every aspect of building design.  Civil engineers, structural engineers, architects, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers all need to know how the principles of fire protection engineering will affect their involvement in the design of buildings and related infrastructure.  This seminar will provide an introduction to fire protection engineering for the building design team.  It will facilitate the building design process and result in safer and more cost-effective buildings and infrastructure for public agencies and private companies.

About Course Author

Paul Guyer is a registered mechanical engineer, civil engineer, fire protection engineer and architect with over 35 years experience in the design of buildings and related infrastructure.  For an additional 9 years he was a senior-level advisor to the California Legislature on infrastructure and capital outlay issues.  He has designed and supervised the design of hundreds of construction projects requiring the preparation of detailed working drawings and specifications for federal, state and local public agencies and private companies.  He is a graduate of Stanford University and has held numerous national, state and local positions with the American Society of Civil Engineers and National Society of Professional Engineers.

Course Content

The following links contain the reference materials for this webinar:

An Introduction to Fire Protection Engineering for Buildings (a PDF file, 44 page, 0.4 MB)

Lecture Slides (a PDF file, 18 page, 0.3 MB)

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you still experience any difficulty in downloading or opening this file, you may need to close some applications or reboot your computer to free up some memory.

Because this course is offered as a "live" course, you are required to attend the webinar at the scheduled time and date. Please check the Webinar Schedule under course description on our website for scheduled meeting date and time. We will send you an invitation to the webinar through email approximately 24 hours before the webinar (confirmation of the receipt of the invitation is required). The certificate of completion will not be issued unless you attend the webinar and pass a quiz. Thank you for your cooperation.

Course Summary

1.  You will be introduced to fire protection basics related to building materials and design, including fire areas, height limitations, interior fire spread, egress, finishes, insulation, roof coverings, air handling, plastic pipe and conduit, and fire retardant wood products.

2.  You will be introduced to the basics of water supply for fire protection including sprinklered facilities demand, demand for unsprinklered facilities, pressure requirements, quantities, on-site storage, fire pumps, and distribution systems.

3.  You will be introduced to the basic types of fire extinguishing systems including automatic sprinklers, foam (AFFF), standpipes, dry chemicals, carbon dioxide, Halon 1301 and portable extinguishers.

4.  You will be introduced to the basic types of fire detection, alarm and reporting systems.

5.  You will be introduced to some fire protection fundamentals for buildings with special occupancies such as medical facilities, detention facilities, electronic and telecommunication facilities; and special hazards such as petroleum fuel storage, waterfront facilities, and aircraft maintenance facilities.

6.  You will receive an overview of the occupancy hazard classification system (light, ordinary group 1, ordinary group 2, special).


Before you attend the webinar, you need to print the quiz questions from your browser (to be used for the discussion during the webinar). At the end of the webinar, you need to complete the quiz and submit your answers to obtain the PDH credit (quiz deadline: midnight on the webinar date).

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.