Most smoke control systems will only operate a few times in their life cycle, during commissioning, testing and maintenance. Only a very few will ever have to work in a fire, but when this happens, someone’s life could depend on its ability to operate at the limits of its capacity. It is for this circumstance that the system needs to be properly designed.
In a smoke control system, electrical wiring is the vital link between the control system and the equipment – fans, vents and smoke barriers. It is the source of power on which the success or failure of the smoke control system depends.
And yet, when specifying a smoke control system, designers tend to focus on choosing the right equipment for the job, following EN 12101 standards for fans, vents and smoke barriers. However, designing and specifying the cabling linking the elements of the smoke control system requires just as much attention to make sure that, when the time comes, the system will be capable of the job expected, and to operate and continue operating during a fire.
A well designed smoke control system will be carefully specified in its entirety, and this includes not only the equipment, but also the electrical wiring connecting it to the control system.
Cable selection is a complex subject, and the available guidance is distributed in a large number of standard documents and codes of practice, which adds further to the complexity.
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Paul Compton is Technical Director for Colt, experienced in smoke control, HVAC, solar shading and louvre systems.