Performance-Based Design Approach

With a performance-based design, performance criteria are established and agreed upon by all parties involved, often called “stakeholders.” Once the performance criteria are established, those criteria guide the design of the building. Reports explaining and detailing proposed designs to achieve the performance criteria are evaluated by the Fire Prevention Division and/or the Building Department using applicable and established principles of fire protection engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, human behavior, etc. Performance-based designs can be very complicated, so it is very important that all critical assumptions and limitations of the design are explicitly stated. Critical assumptions and limitations need to be organized into a report that must be maintained with the building so that the building can be operated and regularly inspected by Fire Prevention personnel for compliance with the intricacies of the specified design. This report is often called an “Operations and Maintenance Manual.”

Among other nationally and internationally recognized standards, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers’ Engineering Design Guide to Performance-Based Fire Protection Analysis and Design of Buildings is used by the Fire Prevention Division in evaluating performance-based designs. The guide outlines a process for using a performance-based approach in the design and assessment of building fire safety within both prescriptive and performance-based code systems.