Smokes Vents 'High' on the List of Building Priorities

Smoke vents are not usually high on people’s list of ‘best features’ when they consider the aesthetic and architectural qualities of new or refurbished buildings.

From a safety perspective, however, they are a priority – and a potential life-saver for occupants and anyone visiting, living or working inside a building should fire break out.

Vents like those provided by Bilco UK perform four crucial functions in helping to:

o remove smoke and noxious gases when a fire takes hold
o improve visibility for occupants to escape from the building
o improve firemen’s ability to see clearly when entering a building and as they try to prevent the fire spreading
o protect building contents and reduce structural damage.

James Fisher, Bilco UK/Europe general manager, said: “Fire safety is vital in any construction but it’s a paramount consideration for designers, specifiers and builders of high-density tower blocks, high-rise new builds and refurbishment projects. Safety must never be compromised.

“Product development is increasingly driven by stringent new legislation and design codes. The specification and appropriate positioning of smoke vents can have a major impact both on safety and building costs.”

Based in Suffolk, Bilco supplies the trade with a range of roof hatches, access and floor doors as well as smoke vents.

Its single leaf REM smoke ventilator opens to 140 degrees within 60 seconds which helps to disperse fumes and smoke rapidly. Double leaf vents for larger areas open to 90 degrees. A recent addition to the company’s impressive safety equipment portfolio, the REM-140 satisfies Building Regulations Approved Document B, and meets the requirements of BS9999 and European Standards, EN 12101-2.

EN 12101-2 performance standards insist that vent covers reach the fire open position within 60 seconds and that single covers must open to 140 degrees – the point at which smoke is unlikely to be blown back into the building.

As they are usually closed and therefore part of a building’s envelope, vents must comply with other aspects of the Building Regulations, especially the recently-revised Part L which has introduced lower limits on building permeability. The aim is to reduce energy loss, fuel bills and carbon dioxide emissions and retain more heat.

Good thermal insulation, sealed gaskets and an effective close and latching system are essential for vents to meet these stipulations. They must also meet the requirements of Part F which sets standards for ventilation and air quality.

Smoke vents can play a significant role in natural ventilation when their controls are appropriately integrated into a building management system. It is simply a matter of applying the right equipment to manage the ventilation for smoke control, comfort ventilation or access.

All Bilco products are manufactured with a high degree of thermal efficiency. The acoustic, thermal and air leakage performance of their hatches are independently verified by tests at Taylor Woodrow’s technology centre in Bedfordshire. They are also resistant to the effects of ageing and weather in exposed locations.

“Our product development is determined by evolving legislation and design codes in an ever-changing market,” said James Fisher. “We ensure that we provide high quality equipment that features the appropriate specifications and is fit-for-purpose.”

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