At our recent webinar on Commissioning and maintaining smoke control systems, I received some excellent questions during the Q&A section. Here you can see my answers to these questions, slightly edited for clarity.
There is also a recording of the webinar available.
Are interfaces between smoke control systems and fire detection systems governed by BS 7273:4 or similar?
The BS 7273 series covers actuation of various fire protection measures. It does not cover smoke control system actuation and there is no equivalent standard which does. There is a draft EN standard for control equipment in the EN 12101 series but it has not yet been approved and won’t be published at some time.
Please explain where in the RRO it states about testing smoke control?
The RRO is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005. The RRO does not specifically mention smoke control but it encompasses all fire precautions provided for life safety purposes, which would include many smoke control systems. The associated fire safety risk assessment guides do make specific mention of smoke control systems and suggest minimum maintenance requirements. BS 9999 and BS 7346-8 provide more detailed information.
Does commissioning cover the degree to which roof vents are weatherproof?
Not specifically, although the normal mechanical checks that the vent is correctly installed and opens and closes fully and correctly would lead to a presumption that the vents are weatherproof.
Is it required that the smoke control panel be home run to each fan ?
I think this question is asking whether a separate cable is required for connection between the control panel and each fan. The answer to this is yes, as it is necessary to ensure that failure of one fan does not cause the failure of another.
Do you recommend a separate control system for the smoke control system, and should this be connected to the emergency generator?
I’m not sure I answered this in my presentation, as I might have misread it. Yes, we would always recommend separate control equipment for the smoke control system. Neither BMS (building management system) nor FAS (fire alarm system) controls are suitable on their own, although smoke control systems are often linked to them.
Most smoke control suppliers do not get involved with secondary power supplies, other than battery back-up systems, but unless battery back-up is used or unless the system fails safe to the fire condition on loss of power, a secondary power supply, whether from mains, generator or UPS needs to be provided via an automatic transfer switch (ATS).
If a smoke shaft is used as a compensatory feature for means of escape (e.g. not for fire-fighting), does the smoke shaft control system need to satisfy 3hr criteria?
No, while there are requirements on the power supply, for example a 3 hour fuel supply for a standby generator, for life safety systems there is no requirement in the UK for cables or fans to be rated for more than 1 hour or for shaft ventilators to be fire resisting for more than 30 minutes.
Whitepaper: Maintaining smoke control systems and the RRO
Effective maintenance is a key factor in ensuring that safety critical equipment such as smoke control systems will operate faultlessly when needed. It is backed up by the provisions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which are not always fully understood.
This whitepaper summarises those provisions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005: SSI No.
1541 (“RRO”) that relate to smoke control systems.
Paul Compton is Technical Director for Colt, experienced in smoke control, HVAC, solar shading and louvre systems.