The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire and Smoke Ventilation – Part 1

January 19, 2017 4:16 pm

In our Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment blog series, we cover those areas which will prove most useful to Architects and Building Planners when designing fire safety provision for new buildings and/or making substantial alterations to existing structures. In Part 1 of Fire and Smoke Ventilation, we are going to look at smoke control and its contribution to means of escape.


Fire Protection as a whole can include a range of measures designed to alert building occupants to the possibility of a fire in the premises or to assist with avoiding the spread of fire and smoke in the building. It is important that the measures which are contained under the Fire Protection banner are designed specifically for the building involved and associated means of escape.


Any over-complication of such a system by the addition of elements which are not required can actually result in a fire protection system which is less reliable than a relatively simple provision which meets the requirements of the design.


So, before a smoke control system is designed, the need for one will have been raised as a necessity as a part of the Fire Protection plan and the reasons why it is required might fall into one of the following areas:


– To improve visibility for building occupants during longer distance escape routes


– To improve upon the reliability of escape from a large enclosure


– To improve upon both visibility and tenability for firefighters


– To limit the likelihood of smoke spreading as part of a phased evacuation plan


– To effectively limit the damage caused to building contents by smoke


The smoke control system design will require input from various parties, such as fire engineers, building services engineers and any other relevant parties and so it is essential that the parameters of the design are established at an early stage and the respective responsibilities made clear.


A smoke control system may be designed to protect the area of the building where the fire has started, or it may be designed to protect areas of the building which are remote from the fire, or it may be required to undertake both objectives. In cases where both are required, it is practical to install two systems which are compatible with each other.


In part 2 of this series, we will look in more detail at systems which are designed to protect the area where a fire starts and those systems which are intended to protect areas beyond the area where the fire ignites.


In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.


Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact Peter Gyere on 020 8668 8663.


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