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Regulatory Requirements for Performance Based Codes Using Mathematical Risk Assessment.

pdf icon Regulatory Requirements for Performance Based Codes Using Mathematical Risk Assessment. (735 K)
Brannigan, V. M.; Smidts, C.; Kilpatrick, A.

Interscience Communications Ltd.; National Institute of Standards and Technology; Building Research Establishment; and Society of Fire Protection Engineers; Swedish National Testing and Research Institute. Interflam '96. International Interflam Conference, 7th Proceedings. March 26-28, 1996, Cambridge, England, Interscience Communications Ltd., London, England, Franks, C. A.; Grayson, S., Editor(s)(s), 621-630 pp, 1996.


National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD


fire safety; risk assessment; codes; regulations; nuclear power plants; mathematical models; performance based codes


Fire safety is one of the most complex and difficult areas proposed for the use of risk assessment and performance based codes. Mathematical risk assessment involves the use of probabilistic models of real world events. However, fire is a rare and complex event for which significant uncertainties exist. Fire safety regulators are often unsophisticated, and code enforcement is fragmented. Current fire safety regulatory systems assume static buildings with ample safety reserves. From a legal perspective, uncertainty is resolved by political, not technical decision making. All these factors argue for a high level of scrutiny of mathematical risk models used for performance based regulation. Technological regulation involves predicting and anticipating technological failures. Compliance with regulations should be connected to a reduction in the risk of injury and mathematical risk models can be used to predict accidents and develop performance based codes. However, regulation is a process in which parties prove that their designs are in compliance with social norms, and it is unclear what standard of proof for mathematical risk models is appropriate. Minimum regulatory standards must be developed for mathematical risk models used to support performance based codes.