Everything You Need to Know About Smoke Ventilation Systems

Smoke ventilation systems are a crucial part of any fire safety strategy and play an important role in helping to protect people and property from the dangers of fire.

Here we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about smoke ventilation systems and reveal why they’re essential for properties.

What is a Smoke Ventilation System?

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Smoke ventilation systems are installed in various types of properties and in the event of a fire are designed to open to help release smoke, fumes and hot air from inside the building. They can vary in design but all work to achieve the same fundamental goal which is to vent the smoke, heat and fumes from buildings during a fire.

How Do Smoke Ventilation Systems Work?

Smoke vents are usually installed on roofs and wall spaces and are linked to smoke detectors that when triggered, automatically open the vents to remove smoke and fumes and bring in fresh air.

They are usually placed in areas that are key escape routes such as corridors, stairwells and lobbies to create smoke free zones and help people evacuate safely.

What Are the Benefits of Smoke Ventilation Systems?

In the event of a fire, smoke ventilation systems help to;

  • Save the lives of those inside by making it easier and safer for them to get out
  • Keep vital escape paths and exit routes clear of smoke
  • Delay flashovers from occurring
  • Reduce smoke inhalation and harm to those inside
  • Assist firefighters by making it easier to source and put out the fire
  • Reduces the amount of smoke and heat damage to the property and its contents

What Types of Buildings Need a Smoke Ventilation System?

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There are regulations governing what types of buildings require smoke control and it can be a legal requirement. Some of the most common types of buildings that are required to have smoke ventilation systems installed are:

  • Apartment complexes
  • HMOs or multi-storey residential buildings
  • Large factories, warehouses or storage facilities
  • Large shops or shopping centres
  • Multi-storey buildings over 18m tall
  • Car parks

Due to the differences in building heights, sizes, layouts, locations etc, specialist advice should be sought to help determine the properties exact requirements and to make sure the system going in is sufficient.

Do Smoke Ventilation Systems Require Maintenance?

Because these systems have the potential to make such a difference in the event of a fire, if they were to fail in an emergency, the consequences could be dire with the possibility of injury or loss of life.

As the person responsible for a building, you must fully understand the regulations regarding fire safety and abide by them to keep the property safe and compliant.

  • Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, those in charge must provide the correct level of fire safety on their premises
  • A responsible person must be appointed to ensure that all fire safety equipment is properly maintained and in full working order
  • British standards and the Building Regulations Approved Document require systems to be serviced regularly and maintained to a high standard.

Failure to adhere to these regulations is an offence and can result in serious fines or even prosecution for the building’s owners or managers.

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