Smoke vents are a crucial part of a building’s fire safety systems and work in conjunction with other mechanisms such as smoke curtains and sprinklers to protect building occupants and the building’s structure from damage or collapse. How do they do this, though? In this blog, we will outline the basic function of smoke vents and how they work, as well as looking at best practices for maintaining them properly to ensure they do not fail in case of an emergency.
In the initial stages of a fire, temperatures tend to rise fairly slowly and consistently until they reach their ‘flashover point’ when the rise in heat rapidly accelerates. Due to the relatively slow temperature rise when a fire starts, very large amounts of smoke are usually produced in the first few minutes. Without any barriers to contain the smoke or an exit for it to escape the building, it can very quickly fill even a very large space, quickly incapacitating occupants. The limited visibility created by the smoke also makes it extremely difficult for firefighters to locate the seat of the fire to put it out quickly.
It is extremely important that firefighters reach the fire to put it out in the beginning stages when the temperatures are still manageable, because once a fire reaches its flashover point, the likelihood of rescuing any occupants, stock or indeed the building itself (depending on how large the blaze it), goes down considerably.
Smoke vents are instrumental in helping to keep escape routes clear and in allowing firefighters to reach the origin of the fire quickly, helping them to extinguish it faster which saves lives, stock and buildings.