Smoke ventilation systems are there to protect people and property, making them a vital part of a buildings fire safety strategy. Also known as smoke control systems or automatic opening vents (AOVs) their design varies but their job is the same, to vent smoke, fumes and heat out of a building during a fire. With such an important role to play in fire safety the need to maintain them properly is paramount to help keep a building and its occupants safe.
How do Smoke Vents work?
With the amount of building higher than three floors increasing smoke ventilation systems now play a major role in fire protection for the occupants. When a fire breaks out in these buildings often the main cause of fatalities is not caused by the fire itself, but the smoke. Smoke severely hampers visibility, making evacuation harder for occupants and for the fire service who are trying to fight the fire.
Smoke Vents can be found in numerous types of buildings ranging from commercial to residential. They are placed on roofs and wall spaces and are triggered to work by heat and smoke alarms in the building. In the event of a fire smoke vents are triggered and open automatically, allowing smoke and fumes to escape and bring fresh air into the building. This helps create smoke free zones, such as corridors and stairwells, to help people escape. They also help the Emergency Services locate the source of the fire and stop the build-up of heat in a building, thus protecting its structural integrity.
How often should our smoke vents be serviced?
The consequences of failing to maintain your smoke vent system can be dire, with the potential for injury and loss of life if the system fails in an emergency. As a building owner you must understand the regulations you need to abide by in relation to fire safety. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, companies are deemed responsible for providing the correct level of fire safety on their premises. A responsible person has to be appointed to ensure that all fire safety equipment is maintained and in good working order. It is an offence not to do this and could result in the prosecution of the building’s owner or manager. British Standards BS 7346:1-1990, BS 5588:12-2004 and The Buildings Regulations Approved Document B (ADB) also requires systems to be serviced regularly and maintained to a high standard. Meeting these standards is mandatory for all building owners.
Therefore, it is vital that smoke vents are maintained and serviced on a regular basis to ensure they work in an emergency and meet regulations. Smoke vents have many moving parts and if these have not been used for long periods of time a seal can develop around the vent stopping it from opening. To prevent the vents from failing over time, the smoke vent systems need on-going maintenance. The maintenance involves testing all parts of the smoke vent system including the fire alarm. We recommend an annual or biannual maintenance of your smoke vents to ensure you are meeting regulation standards.
Carrying out routine maintenance can also provide significant cost savings, as preventative upkeep can allow systems to run more efficiently for longer, and inspections can identify issues before they can develop into costly system failures.
While some buildings may have maintenance staff that can undertake some checks, it makes sense to have an expert regularly check and maintain your smoke vent systems. This is particularly true when you consider the cost of fines for non-compliance, or the potential loss of income from an office being closed by the local fire service.
How can Equiptest help you?
Our maintenance is comprehensive and conforms to British Standards. All work we undertake will be in line with your building’s fire risk assessments and fire certificate. We can arrange all maintenance at times to suit your business and ensure there is a minimum amount of disruption to work environments.
Don’t put off maintaining this vital part of your fire safety system, call us today!