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Risk and Performance Standards.

pdf icon Risk and Performance Standards. (970 K)
Bukowski, R. W.

NISTIR 6030;

Fire Risk and Hazard Assessment Symposium: Research and Practice: Bridging the Gap. Proceedings. National Fire Protection Research Foundation. June 26-28, 1996, San Francisco, CA, 37-45 pp, 1996 AND U.S./Japan Government Cooperative Program on Natural Resources (UJNR). Fire Research and Safety. 13th Joint Panel Meeting. Volume 1. NISTIR 6030. March 13-20, 1996, Gaithersburg, MD, Beall, K. A., Editor, 79-88 pp, 1997, 1997.

Available from:

National Technical Information Service
Order number: PB97-184204


fire risk; hazard assessment; standards; fire codes; life safety; codes; risk assessment; scenarios; occupants; performance based codes


Performance codes are replacing prescriptive codes in much of the world. As the form of the codes change, the form of standards which support those codes needs to evolve in concert. Thus, performance standards need to be explicit about the purpose(s) served by the standardized systems and to provide quantitative means to assess the degree to which they serve that purpose. Most of the engineering methods evolving to support performance based codes assess risk to life of building occupants relative to the risk to occupants in buildings which comply with the prescriptive code. Such relative risk assessment is cumbersome and unreliable, and should be replaced by absolute risk limits to enjoy all of the efficiencies of performance codes. Financial risk is easy to understand but is inappropriate to codes that exist to protect life. Risk to life is difficult to understand and communicate to the public. These risk analysis methods utilize scenarios as a bridge to experience and the means to quantify likelihoods. In the absence of incident data some systematic methods of identifying scenarios is needed. This paper deals with each of these issues in an attempt to stimulate research needed to find the answers.