By Chris Butts, P.E.-FPE, SET, CFPS, M.SAME
Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) code 3-600-01, “Fire Protection Engineering for Facilities,” has been reformatted and revised. The rewritten code, with Change 1 dated Nov. 28, 2016, has new impacts on the roles and responsibilities of the Fire Protection Engineer (FPE) and the design teams that work with them.
The code was reformatted and revised to align with the International Building Code and now includes 34 chapters. The rewrit¬ten code comprehensively coordinates the technical requirements for correlation, and reduces specific Department of Defense (DOD) terminology for simplicity and overall ease of use for the design community.
The revised criteria further defines and clarifies the FPE role and adds new requirements and responsibilities. One of the most significant clarifications is the new definitions of the Designated (Cognizant or Service) FPE (DFPE) and the Qualified FPE (QFPE). The DFPE is the individual who “oversees that Area of Responsibility for that project.” The QFPE is “the engineer of record (sometimes referred to as the designer of record) or the fire protection quality control engineer.”
With the exception of U.S. Army facili¬ties, the QFPE must be “an individual who is a registered professional engineer (P.E.) who has passed the fire protection engi¬neering written examination administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying and has relevant fire protection engineering experience.”
For Army facilities, a QFPE must be a registered P.E. in any discipline, but does not have to pass the FPE exam. Instead, the QFPE must be able to prove “experience designing all facets of fire protection systems and life safety systems for at least three projects with the same type of facility and system(s) as utilized in the project, including responsibility for fire suppression, life safety (including building code analysis), and fire and alarm and mass notification systems.”
The impacts to the DFPE are numerous. Perhaps the most significant is the “respon¬sibility to determine whether or not the installation infrastructure is adequate to support the project,” including the water supply and fire department access.
Under the rewritten criteria, the DFPE is responsible for conducting water flow tests to determine the available water supply for the water-based fire extinguishing systems. This water supply data must be provided prior to project advertisement. Additionally, the DFPE must determine if an automatic sprinkler system or other type of fire suppression system is required, “the need for a fire pump in the planning stages of a project,” and “if a Reliable Power Source is available to the installation or facility in the planning stages.”
Given a seemingly limited number of DFPEs compared to the vast quantity of projects, it remains to be seen how DOD plans to implement these new requirements.
The impacts to the QFPE’s responsibilities are also numerous, and the most significant changes relate to additional work in the design analysis, life safety plans, and design compliance document.
The previous UFC 3-600-01 required the FPE (now the QFPE) to provide a design analysis addressing specific criteria items—including building code and life safety analysis—during the progress of a project’s design phases. It also required the FPE to provide a certification letter at the 100 percent design submission, stating in writing “that the design is in compliance with the UFC and all applicable criteria.”
The revised UFC now requires “the final design analysis and life safety plans to be signed and sealed by the QFPE.” In addition, the “design compliance document must be submitted with the final design submission as part of the design analysis and must bear the signature and profes¬sional seal of the QFPE.” This new requirement for the QFPE to affix their seal to the design analysis, life safety plans and design compliance docu¬ment increases their level of responsibility, as well as their liability for the safety aspect of any given project.
Chris Butts, P.E.-FPE, SET, CFPS, M.SAME, is Director of Fire Protection Engineering & Code Services, Pond; 678-336- 7740, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Article originally appeared in the September-October issue of The Military Engineer.]