The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Smoke Control – Part 3

October 17, 2017 11:05 am

In LWF’s fire safety blog series for those who work in Facilities Management or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, we have been looking recently at smoke control in buildings. In Part 2, we talked about how the spread of smoke can not only cause danger to those people trying to evacuate the building, but can also damage the building and contents extensively. In Part 3, we will begin to look at how the smoke can be controlled.


The type of smoke control measure which is employed in a building can be guided by the objectives of the person(s) responsible. This could mean that the main objective would be keeping the escape routes from the building clear of smoke to help ensure successful evacuation. It could be that the aim is to assist the fire and rescue service when they arrive through the removal of hot smoke to improve visibility and breathing conditions, or it might be that the main objective is in minimising damage to the building and its contents.


Although there are various methods and tools which can be employed to control smoke, the basis falls into two distinct categories – the containment of smoke in the area of fire origin or the ventilation of smoke from inside the building to outside. Measures can also be considered as either fundamental or special.


Fundamental smoke control measures are those which are built into the building design, whereas special measures are those which are more involved and are added to achieve certain aims.


An example of a fundamental measure which might be taken to protect means of escape through containment of smoke is the use of well-fitting fire-resistant doors with a smoke seal which stop the spread of smoke from one compartment to the next. A special measure taken with the same aim might be the pressurisation of the escape route or stairway.


An example of a fundamental measure to assist the fire and rescue service might be manually openable vents which would allow the smoke to escape the area into outside air. A special measure to achieve the same means might be natural or mechanical ventilation to extract the smoke from a given area to outside air.


Other fundamental smoke containment measures include: Fire-resisting enclosures for protected routes, the enclosure of escape route in fire resistant materials that act as fire stoppers, fire resisting barriers and doors with smoke seals.


In Part 4 of this series, we will look at how smoke can be contained by physical barriers such as walls and partitions. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.




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