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Safety Laws

smoke vent laws

A smoke ventilation system can only protect and potentially save people from a fire if the system is actually in proper working order. This means that your system should be kept in perfect condition otherwise it is useless having one. It is also a legal obligation under the Regulatory Reform Order of 2005.

The Regulatory Reform Order of 2005 states that in terms of maintaining your ventilation system that a suitable procedure of maintenance should be carried out to ensure that the system is in excellent working order. It also states that the maintenance work should be undertaken by somebody who has sufficient knowledge of the system.


Smoke Vents are a specialist piece of equipment so there is no doubt that it will require specialist maintenance to keep it in good working order all year round. Most of the time it is unlikely that your fire alarm service agreement will contain a comprehensive cover for your smoke ventilation system so it is very important that you make a quick check of this.

The service that smoke ventilation systems require is a specialist service because the equipment is specialist this requires that the maintenance should be specialist and done by professionals who have the right expertise in the industry. The best way to ensure this is by asking the company who originally installed the ventilation system as it is likely that these people will do all of the maintenance for you too. This will make it much more easier for a specialist to identify if there is any problem with the equipment and they should be able to fix any faults they discover immediately. Hiring just a regular technician may mean that they miss some of the faults with the system which could prove to be dangerous if a fire broke out and the ventilation system was not in perfect working order.

At Smoke Vent Solutions we provide servicing to all of our existing customers. All of our systems should adhere to BS7346: Part 1, BS9999:2008 BS5588 and The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005. Every site requires a service to be carried out by our trained engineers every 6 months to make sure that the systems are all still in proper working order.


Shopping Centres

It is extremely important for enclosed shopping centres to have smoke ventilation systems fitted because most of these centres have complex designs and are usually filled with people throughout the day. These people will usually only know one way in or out of the building if a fire did break out within the shopping centre.

All enclosed shopping centres MUST be fitted with smoke ventilation systems and in stores with a storey area of over 1300m2. All Smoke and heat exhaust ventilation systems should be designed exactly according to the rules set out by the Building Research Establishment Report.

The underside of the centre roof must be changed into smoke reservoirs and all of them should be no more than 2000m2 and at the least 1.5m deep measured to the underneath of the shopping centre roof. These smoke reservoirs must be automatically descending smoke curtains which must be no bigger than 60m apart. The smoke in the building should not be allowed to lower any more than 3m above the floor level. All of the smoke reservoirs should have the necessary amount of smoke ventilation systems or extractor fans to remove the calculated amount of smoke that could be produced evenly throughout the reservoir.

Fire Suppression

The ventilators which are fitted to the roof of the building should operate on the actuation of any fire suppression system or the actuation of the smoke detection system within the reservoir. On the operation of more than one smoke detector anywhere within the shopping centre or following any delay not exceeding four minutes from initiation of the first fire alarm signal anywhere in the shopping centre.

It's not all hot air!

schedule Smoke ventilation systems are used to release any smoke or hot air from a building that is on fire. This prevents the building from collapsing and allows cooler air from outside to enter, helping to cool the building down quicker. It can also assist and save the lives of those who may still be trapped inside or trying to escape the burning building as well as assisting fire fighters when they arrive at the scene. The main purposes of a ventilation system are:

  • That they keep all escape routes free from any smoke
  • They delay a flashover of the building
  • To help assist firefighters by making the building smoke free
  • To reduce any smoke or heat damage that could be caused by the fire or the smoke

There are many different types of ventilation systems but nearly all of them have the same main purpose, which is to allow smoke and heat to escape. The two main types are Smoke Clearance ventilation systems and Life Safety ventilation systems.

Large Buildings

A smoke clearance ventilation system is usually installed in large buildings such as hotels, apartment complexes and underground car parks. These are also usually fitted into the corridors of these buildings where the main fire escape routes are located. A life safety ventilation system however provides protection to people who may be escaping from a burning building. These types of ventilation systems are usually fitted into shopping centres, warehouses and some public buildings such as museums or public houses. These systems are usually fitted to these buildings if the escape routes are long distances away from the main attractions within the building. These systems are fitted to the buildings to allow smoke to be vented out of the building so that there is a layer of clean air allowing people to walk out of the building and be able to see the escape routes clearly and escape quickly and unharmed.

Smoke ventilation systems are mainly used in the following buildings and it can in some cases be against the law if some of these buildings aren't equipped with ventilation systems.

  • Any large factory
  • Warehouse or other storage buildings
  • Market places
  • Large shops
  • Apartment complexes
  • Any building in which the travel distance exceeds those in Approved Document B
  • Prisons
  • Any covered or underground car parks

Many buildings which are fitted with ventilation systems are also fitted with sprinkler systems as a ventilation system is not likely to control the size of a fire but only to reduce the amount of smoke and gases that the fire produces. This is why a sprinkler system may also be necessary as this helps control the size of the fire.

london vent install

Saving Lives

Without Efficient Smoke Ventilation Systems being fitted to your building, you are putting your life and the lives of others at risk.

Having an effective smoke ventilation system which helps to clear smoke from main routes used to access and escape buildings is extremely important especially in apartment complex's where the main way of escape is through corridors. Ventilation systems can also be helpful with assisting firefighters and protecting the contents of the building from both smoke, fire and heat damage.

All builders and architects are required by law to meet stringent legal requirements (which will usually include installing Smoke ventilation systems),especially for the fire safety in multi storey buildings. Smoke ventilation is extremely vital when it comes to releasing harmful gases and smoke which builds up inside during the event of a fire. If this smoke builds up it can ultimately cause the building to collapse.

Extra Benefits

Ventilation systems must also keep buildings weather proof and provide security for the occupants living there against intruders or trespassers. This means using controllable smoke vents to prevent these kinds of things from happening. More recently smoke ventilation systems are being used as a means to help with natural ventilation to help reduce the carbon footprints of the residents within the building.

Once buildings have been fitted with ventilation systems they should be tested to assure that they are in working order and are certified before the building is handed over to new or existing occupants.

The regulations which are in effect in England and Wales are defined in the Approval Document B: Fire Safety of the Building Regulations Other important regulations for builders, building owners and designers are The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2006 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

For residents in Scotland the safety of buildings is covered in the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.

The builders should also provide the occupiers of the building with fire safety information which includes full details and instructions of the smoke ventilation system and how it works.

An essential part of a building is any hatches which can be accessed and smoke vents so they should be managed and installed with as much care as possible, as these systems can be lifesaving.

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