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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.

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