The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Smoke Ventilation – Part 182

May 7, 2024 11:42 am

LWF’s Fire Safety Engineering blog series is written for Architects, building designers and others in the construction industry to highlight and promote discussion on all topics around fire engineering. In part 181, LWF discussed appropriate levels of illumination for escape routes and emergency safety lighting to allow ‘stay-in-place’. In part 182, we begin to look at smoke ventilation and the potential hazards of smoke spread to occupants of enclosed spaces.

Most people are very aware of the dangers of fire, but the dangers of smoke spread are not discussed as often. Smoke spread in enclosed spaces can be extremely dangerous to occupants of a building, can disrupt and make evacuation hazardous and can make firefighting a more difficult and risky undertaking. Outside of the risk to people, smoke spread can cause significant damage to properties and business operations.

Smoke may spread some distance from the source of fire unless it is controlled. There are very many smoke control methods which may be employed as a part of the building’s fire protection measures. E.g., smoke barriers, fire-resisting construction and smoke ventilation systems, which are often used in conjunction with active fire protection systems such as smoke detection and fire suppression systems.

The design of a smoke control system should:

  • Be consistent with the planning of spaces within a building
  • Be consistent with the fire strategy
  • Be designed from the outset with distinct objectives
  • Be as simple and reliable as effectiveness allows
  • Involve input from all relevant parties, such as architect, fire engineer, building services engineer, owner/occupier, contractors and often, insurers.

BS 7346-8 is a code of practice for the planning, design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of smoke control system components.

The objectives of a smoke control system should be set by the designers. A system for a given building is likely to have several objectives, the objectives may be of the same priority or differing priorities.

Some objectives might be similar to the following:

  • Maintaining tenable conditions in the area of fire origin or areas adjoining
  • Minimising smoke spread to adjoining areas of the building
  • Removing smoke from the building during or post firefighting operations

Attention should be paid to the timelines for the objectives, as identification of the timeline required for the design is a critical part of system design.

In part 183 of LWF’s series on fire engineering we will continue discussing smoke ventilation, beginning with the principles of smoke ventilation systems. 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 since 1986 to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact the LWF office on 0800 410 1130.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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