Why use smoke control? A simple guide to what smoke control is and how it helps protect tenants, staff and businesses.

Posted by Conor Logan on 22/03/19 10:55

We are often asked the fundamental questions of what smoke control is, how it works and what the benefits are of installing it. As these are important for building owners, managers and fire safety engineers to understand, we’ve put together this post to help the responsible individuals better understand why smoke control is so vital to protecting life, stock and buildings.

So, let’s start at the beginning.

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Topics: Smoke Control, Smoke Containment, Regulations

The Ocado warehouse fire, Andover.  Short term benefit outweighs long term resilience?

Posted by Conor Logan on 12/03/19 15:20

On February 8th, the catastrophic fire that engulfed Ocado’s Andover Customer Fulfillment Centre (CFC) finally came to an end, after four traumatic days.

As the fire raged on, 300 firefighters battled on at considerable personal risk, while over 100 residents in the area surrounding the 24,000 sq. metre warehouse were evacuated. 

Statistically, more than 40% of businesses do not survive the consequences of a major fire and Ocado has already started seeing the effects of this one on theirs. Since February 5th, Ocado shares have seen a 14% decrease and the company has started preparing for massive hits to sales as it struggles to fulfill orders. The Andover CFC processed around 30,000 orders for customers each week, which represents 10% of the entire business’ capacity.

Now the immediate danger is over, the question of why this happened must be investigated. Was the repeal of the Local Acts in 2012 a contributing factor?

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Topics: Smoke Control, Regulations, service

5 reasons why you shouldn't use HVAC control systems for smoke ventilation

Posted by Conor Logan on 10/01/17 12:00

 


Smoke ventilation systems today require sophisticated control systems with highly complex sequences of operation. HVAC control systems could be seen as a viable solution, as they can be extremely flexible and offer a high degree of programmability. However, while they may be adequate for simple applications, there are a number of issues that mean they do not deliver on all the functionalities needed for more complex schemes.

Here are 5 reasons why:

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Topics: Smoke Control, Smoke ventilation, HVAC, Controls

Are fire alarm control systems any good for smoke ventilation?

Posted by Conor Logan on 08/11/16 12:15

The upsurge in large-scale residential schemes and commercial towers with fire fighting shafts has created the need for much more sophisticated control systems with highly complex sequences of operation for their smoke ventilation schemes.

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Topics: Smoke Control, Smoke ventilation, Controls

Open or Closed Protocol in Fire Systems: which is best?

Posted by Conor Logan on 18/10/16 13:30

The debate on the pros and cons of open or closed protocols in the fire alarm and smoke detection controls market has been ongoing for many years. What is it all about and why does this subject provoke so much discussion in our industry?

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Topics: Smoke Control, Smoke ventilation

7 key features of a smoke ventilation control system

Posted by Conor Logan on 11/10/16 12:00

As a property owner or developer, when you have to make a decision on the best control system for smoke ventilation in your building, you are faced with a bewildering amount of information and conflicting opinions as to the most effective approach. Should you opt for a fire alarm control system, an HVAC/BMS control system or one specifically designed for smoke ventilation? Should you choose open or closed protocol?

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Topics: Smoke Control, Smoke ventilation, Controls

Choosing control systems and power supplies for smoke and fire curtains

Posted by Paul Compton on 30/08/16 12:00

Smoke and fire curtains are usually controlled (either individually or in groups) by a zone control panel. The curtains are allowed to fall automatically under the influence of gravity when the power is lost, which can happen in a fire or during a simple power cut. However if there is an electricity outage where there is no emergency, this can be a nuisance, and it can be prevented by using either a local Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) or a Battery Back-Up (BBU).

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Topics: Smoke Control, Fire Containment, Controls, Curtains

Do we need hot boxes in smoke control?

Posted by Paul Compton on 09/08/16 12:00

BS 8519 introduced the concept of “hot boxes” to protect damper motors to a wider audience. What are these and what do they offer?

What is a hot box?

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Topics: Smoke Control, Regulations

Fire safety through compartmentation with smoke and fire curtains

Posted by Paul Compton on 26/07/16 12:00

If you think that five breaths are all it takes to lose consciousness, you won’t be surprised to learn that as many as 70% of victims in a fire suffocate. Thick smoke can lead to disorientation and make it difficult to breathe, while the heat can cause parts of the building to collapse and start secondary fires. All this makes it difficult for people to find their way out of the building and for emergency services to make their way in to fight the fire.

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

When is smoke control needed in a car park?

Posted by Conor Logan on 24/05/16 12:00

Let me make it clear. I’m talking here about systems providing smoke control, not just smoke clearance as recommended in Building Regulations. These systems are much more complex and costly than compliant smoke clearance systems, so why would anyone choose to use them?

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Topics: Smoke Control, CFD, Smoke ventilation, Car Park Ventilation

Q&A from 'ventilation solutions for overheated corridors' webinar

Posted by Paul Compton on 19/04/16 12:00

I received some excellent questions during the Q&A section during the recent webinar that I presented. Here you can see my answers to these questions, slightly edited for clarity.

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Topics: Smoke Control, Webinar, Corridor ventilation, CPD

The impact of door size on smoke control design

Posted by Conor Logan on 12/04/16 12:00

One of the biggest challenges in the design of smoke control and pressurisation systems currently is the relatively recent trend towards installing full height doors which extend all the way to the underside of the ceiling, and/or very wide single leaf doors.

While there are no regulations governing the height of the doors which separate corridors, lobbies and stairs in a commercial or residential building, from a smoke ventilation point of view, full height or “oversize” doors can be problematic.

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Topics: Smoke Control, Pressurisation, Smoke shafts

How to avoid overheating in common corridors of residential buildings

Posted by Paul Compton on 05/04/16 12:00

The quest for energy efficiency has led to very good insulation in residential buildings. While this is very good for the environment and electricity bills, it is having unintended consequences on stair lobbies, corridors and entrance halls, which tend to overheat. This results in unpleasant conditions for residents and possible issues maintaining cold water supply temperatures.

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Topics: Smoke Control, Corridor ventilation

Specifying the right cabling for your smoke control system can save lives

Posted by Paul Compton on 01/03/16 12:00

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.

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Topics: Smoke Control, Wiring

Specifying smoke control systems: a complex task that you can’t afford to get wrong

Posted by Paul Compton on 02/02/16 12:00

Smoke control is a ‘wide science’: it requires in-depth knowledge of the building layout, the technical aspects and the bewildering array of regulations in force. Each type of building has its own peculiarities and some have specific regulations and guidance on smoke control.

Specifying a smoke control system is not always easy, and you can’t afford to get it wrong. These are life-saving systems and their failure could have dramatic consequences. And a lack of confidence or knowledge can lead to over-specification with consequent unnecessary costs.

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Topics: Smoke Control, Regulations, Curtains