Looking after smoke control in car parks.

Posted by Tom Archer on 24/06/19 15:00

There are two only two types of car park – those that have already been built and those that are yet to be built, but there are many options for both smoke control and smoke clearance in these. Car Parks blog

They are:

* natural smoke control;

* natural and enhanced fume control;

* mechanical smoke clearance and fume control. This can consist of:

- extract and natural inlet,

- extract and mechanical inlet,

- natural exhaust and mechanical inlet.


There is some confusion about the difference between a smoke clearance system and a smoke control system. If you are designing strictly to the regulations, smoke clearance will usually be adequate. It will have been designed to allow the fire service to clear the smoke from the building after it has dealt with a fire. But if you are taking a fire engineering approach, then a smoke control system may be the best solution for you.

There are certain circumstances where people tend to choose smoke control. They are:

  • If you are not planning to provide a sprinkler system in those car parks where sprinklers are required, such as car parks attached to shopping centres or located in Scotland.
  • If the car park doesn’t meet prescriptive maximum travel distances for means of escape.
  • If you are planning stacker type car parking.
  • in lieu of compartmentation.
  • in lieu of ventilating lobbies.

This is a decision that should be made at the design stage, since upgrading from smoke clearance to smoke control retrospectively is likely to require additional plant and new ducting to create the enhanced ventilation rate. And the ducting will have to be correctly positioned and specified which may be difficult for a retrofit.

But, whether you design it in from the beginning or retrofit it, it is essential that you pay attention to maintenance. As the building owner or operator, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires you to provide a suitable system of maintenance to ensure that the system remains efficient, in working order and in good repair.


If you have an existing car park ventilation system, no matter who installed it or the type of system, it is essential that you maintain it properly. Both morally and legally, you want to know that, if a fire happens, your system will do the job it was initially intended to do.

Some systems may have enhanced life-safety features such as CO extraction to prevent dangerous build-up of fumes or a means to help people escape in a fire. It is important to keep these working as intended.

Regulations say:  "The smoke control system should be maintained by a competent person who is familiar with the fire engineering performance specifications of that specific system." As the building owner of operator, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires you to ensure that the system is serviced one a year to guarantee the safety of people who use the car park.

Colt can help you meet your legal obligations and give you peace of mind.

If you need help, advice or want to discuss service contract options, contact us for a free building survey. 

Topics: Car Park Ventilation, smoke control maintenance