Smoke and fire dampers maintenance. Your legal obligations and how to ensure your systems stay compliant.

Posted by Conor Logan on 13/05/21 10:00

What are fire dampers and why would your building need them?

To get started, let’s first explore exactly what a damper is, why dampers are important and how they help keep buildings and people safe.

  • A damper (in simplified HVAC terms) is a device which permits the flow of air when open and restricts the passage of air when closed.
  • A Fire damper is a device that permits the flow of air when open, restricts the passage of air and prevents the passage of fire when closed.
  • A smoke and fire damper is a device that permits the flow of air when open, restricts the passage of air and prevents the passage of smoke and fire when closed.

Fire dampers contain a fire to a single compartment and prevent it from spreading through ducts or other openings. In order to achieve their function, all fire dampers should fail in the closed position and there are generally two ways in which this is achieved; they are either motorised with motor open/spring closed operation or they are held open by a mechanical or electromechanical device and spring closed.

All fire and smoke and fire dampers require a thermal device as a final failsafe, so that when the temperature exceeds the operational limit, the damper closes. Only motorised dampers are easily tested and then reset open remotely but confirming that they have operated is often difficult as they are usually hidden away in ducting above ceilings and in walls. Mechanical dampers that rely on a thermal fuse and electromechanical dampers need manual intervention to reset them after operation which makes testing and verification of operation considerably more difficult.

Smoke and fire dampers play and extremely important role in fire safety systems as they are designed to stop the spread of fire and smoke throughout a building via the duct system. Successful compartmentation of the smoke and fire will result in the blaze being easier to put out, as well as helping to keep escape routes clear, keeping air in the building fresher for longer and minimising any potential damage to property.

Read More

Topics: Smoke Control, service, smoke control maintenance, Fire Safety

Designing effective smoke ventilation into car parks

Posted by Conor Logan on 04/05/21 14:00

Enclosed or underground parking areas normally require car park ventilation systems. Smoke control systems are needed to provide a means of clearing smoke from the car park during and after a fire. This will limit smoke temperatures and structural damage and inhibit smoke spread between floors. Smoke ventilation systems may be designed in addition to provide clear smoke-free access for fire fighters to tackle the seat of the fire or to protect means of escape from the car park. These ventilation systems are more complex and exceed the requirements of the Building Regulations. They are generally used as compensating features when other requirements of the regulations are not met.

Day-to-day ventilation is also needed to control build-up of vehicle exhaust fumes or spilled fuel when the facility is in general use. Acceptable day-to-day air quality is maintained by removing exhaust gases and pollutants produced by vehicles and by ensuring the constant movement of air so that there are no pockets of stagnant air. Invariably, smoke and fume ventilation are facilitated by the same dual-purpose system.

Read More

Topics: Smoke Control, smoke control maintenance, Fire Safety

The importance of robust smoke control

Posted by Conor Logan on 31/03/21 10:00

Smoke inhalation is the number one cause of death from fires. In fact, approximately 50-80% of deaths are a result of smoke inhalation injuries rather than burns alone. When smoke is inhaled, harmful particles and gases enter the respiratory system, which can lead to distress syndrome, disorientation, unconsciousness, asphyxia and respiratory failure. Compared to burns alone, smoke inhalation can present more complex clinical challenges, affecting every organ in the body.

In this post, we highlight why it is important to maintain smoke control systems to keep your buildings legal and ultimately safe for occupants.

Read More

Topics: Smoke Control, smoke control maintenance, Fire Safety

How do UK fire safety design regulations compare to those of countries in the EU?

Posted by Conor Logan on 24/03/21 10:00

The Grenfell review from Dame Judith Hackitt concluded that the current legislation regarding fire safety equipment in the UK is not fit for purpose and that it needs to improve. Learning the best that we can from other countries (such as those in the European Union) while avoiding their shortcomings would be a good start.

But while well-considered fire safety regulation is essential, it is equally important for all those involved in the design and construction of buildings and construction products to have an understanding of what fire can do to a building and how damage and danger can be minimised.

Read More

Topics: Smoke Control, smoke control maintenance, Fire Safety

What do Fire Curtain Certificates EN 16034 and EN 13241 mean?

Posted by Conor Logan on 02/10/20 10:00

Why do these standards exist?

The need for a harmonised set of regulatory standards in relation to fire curtains is a necessity to ensure that all products meet a clearly outlined list of safety requirements. The standards mean that those selling or buying products such as fire curtains, can be absolutely sure that their products are fit for purpose. Many companies do not currently adhere to these new certificates, and will be continuing to sell products that do not in fact meet the new legal requirements.

Read More

Topics: Smoke Control, Fire Containment, Curtains, Fire Safety

What the Draft Building Safety Bill Will Mean for Service and Maintenance of High-risk Buildings

Posted by Conor Logan on 25/09/20 10:15

Last month I wrote a technical review of the latest Fire Safety Bill, where I outlined the specific details of how the Fire Safety Bill legislation will be implemented and enforced.

Read More

Topics: Smoke Control, service, smoke control maintenance, Fire Safety

Corridor ventilation: smoke and temperature control

Posted by Conor Logan on 03/09/20 14:00

When it comes to corridor ventilation, two things must be taken into consideration: effective smoke evacuation in the event of a fire and preventing overheating, for day-to-day comfort ventilation.

Read More

Topics: Smoke Control, Pressurisation, Residential Buildings, Fire Safety

Technical Review of Approved Document B (Fire Safety)

Posted by Conor Logan on 26/08/20 14:00

Back in April I wrote about the consultation that the Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick MP released inviting comments on the plans for the future of construction, encompassing the recommendations of the Building a Safer Future recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt i.e. the forthcoming Building Safety Bill which has now had is second reading in the House of Commons.

Read More

Topics: Smoke Control, Fire Safety

Fire curtains: What you need to know

Posted by Conor Logan on 23/07/20 10:00

Of late, there have been some high-profile news stories focusing on the fire safety of commercial buildings. During a fire, heat can cause parts of the building to collapse which can lead to secondary fires. This makes it difficult for victims to escape from the building and challenging for the emergency services to fight the fire. This is why buildings are designed with limited compartment sizes, so that there is a barrier, through the use of fire rated walls, floors and ceilings, to prevent fire spread throughout the building (amongst other fire safety provisions) – this is a branch of what is generally known as passive fire protection. Different building types have different limitations. Where the building owner, developer or designer would like to relax these limitations and have a more open plan building design, fire curtains can be used as an active form of passive fire protection – allowing unrestricted vision and movement across the space during normal building use, but dropping to floor level to seal the room off in the event of a fire to contain the heat, flames and smoke to a limited compartment, much the same as a wall or fire door would.

Read More

Topics: Fire Containment, Fire Safety

BCO lecture on smoke control in high-rise residential buildings.

Posted by Conor Logan on 06/05/20 10:00

Smoke control in high-rise residential buildings is an important and, sadly, topical issue. Having recently written a post about the talk that I gave to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers on smoke control in general, I now want to focus on high-rise residential buildings , a subject that I also addressed with the engineers and, in particular, in the talk I gave to Northern Ireland Building Control Officers in Armagh.

Read More

Topics: Smoke Control, Residential Buildings, Fire Safety

IMechE lecture on clarifying the importance of Smoke Control

Posted by Conor Logan on 22/04/20 10:00

I recently, before the Corona virus lock-down, had the pleasure and privilege of giving two lectures on smoke control, one to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the other to Northern Ireland Building Control Officers in Armagh. For this second audience I focused in particular on smoke control in high-rise residential buildings.

Read More

Topics: Smoke Control, Fire Safety

Technical Review of Approved Document B (Fire Safety)

Posted by Conor Logan on 17/04/20 10:00

On the 2nd April, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP announced ambitious steps, initiated by the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, to further reform the building safety system, with the aim of ensuring that residents are safe in their homes.

Firstly, MHCLG have published their response to the Building a Safer Future Consultation which sets out plans to reform building safety. This includes creating a new, more stringent, national Building Safety Regulator, currently being devised by the Health and Safety Executive, who will be responsible for implementing, enforcing and overseeing safety in all multi-occupied residential buildings over 18m (or 6 storeys). Importantly, the Building Safety Bill will also provide for the ability to amend the scope in the future, if deemed justified.

Read More

Topics: Smoke Control, Fire Safety