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Smoke Ventilation Systems
A smoke ventilation system is a life safety system designed to facilitate the safe escape of occupants in a building in the event of a fire and also enable limiting probable damage from the fire by tackling it in its early stages. There is well defined and strict legislation and design guidance that defines and governs the installation, performance and maintenance of Smoke Ventilation systems that must be considered and adhered to when specifying any system.
Whether the type of building is residential, commercial, healthcare or educational, a smoke ventilation system should be included as part of the overall fire strategy for the building. This system could either of the two main types that are - Natural, using the natural buoyancy of hot smoke, Mechanical, with the use of powered fans.
- They keep vital escape and access routes free from smoke
- The support fire fighting services
- They reduce the risk of fire spreading
- They protect people and contents
- They assist in limiting further damage
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Natural Ventilation Systems
Natural smoke ventilation systems are probably the most common. Relatively easy to install and they are cost effective. It ensures smoke can be vented from escape routes within a building, including corridors, lobbies and especially staircases. Designed to operate on a floor by floor basis, the detection of smoke within any of the protected areas from the fire alarm system then triggers the smoke control system which automatically opens smoke doors and Automatic Opening Vents (AOVs) to allow smoke to be removed from the affected area, smoke vents on other floors remain shut, creating a draw effect and keeping escape routes clear.
Design and installation of these are dependent on the building configuration and some key factors.
- Suitable for smaller buildings
- Cannot be used with extended corridors
- Can be used on Building Code Compliant structures
- Requires dedicated shaft for smoke venting
Mechanical Ventilation Systems
Mechanical smoke ventilation systems work in a similar principle, and they are designed to remove smoke from an area by isolating it from other escape routes.
They employ powered elements such as fans to force the movement of smoke to allow it to escape through dampers, grills and vents.
Mechanical systems generally utilise a smoke shaft and often more efficient, requiring a smaller smoke shaft they provide an advantage in design and cost of installation.
A mechanical system is useful when space is limited and/or natural airflow is insufficient to achieve the required performance.
- Suitable for taller buildings
- Should be used where extended corridors exist
- Requires smaller vent shaft
- More effective in adverse weather conditions