Torture victims get Bilco ventilation benefit

Victims of torture will receive medical treatment in a cooler environment following work to utilise an existing smoke vent for natural ventilation.

The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture in London has large glass areas and facades but no air conditioning, so it suffers badly in the summer months from solar heat gain.

The foundation does, however, have a Bilco double leaf smoke vent installed on its roof. Staff at the foundation wanted to make use of the smoke vent for natural ventilation.

Bilco ( has now retrofitted new actuators to the smoke vent covers and provided a new control panel, manual control point, rain sensor, local key switch and a closing timer. This will allow dual use of the smoke vent. It will operate as before in the event of a fire, to help clear smoke from the building, but it will also provide natural ventilation.

A new control panel will be installed which will control not only the smoke vent but also the ground floor windows to create an integrated system for the natural ventilation of the building.

Simon Shand-Brown of Bilco said: "Smoke control is crucial to preserving life in the event of a fire. Effective smoke control systems help to keep escape and access routes free of smoke, facilitate fire fighting operations, protect building contents and reduce structural damage.

"At the heart of these systems, though, is nothing more complex than an opening in a roof or wall to let smoke escape, although larger developments may have dedicated smoke shafts incorporated into the building design. Complexity arrives with the control systems needed to ensure that the opening opens when it needs to but otherwise remains shut to keep the building weather-tight and secure against intruders.

"However, controllable openings which allow smoke to escape can also be a key component in ventilation systems - particularly as architects and engineers move towards utilising natural ventilation to reduce building operating costs and 'carbon footprints'. Automatic control of smoke vents and roof-top hatches is now increasingly being integrated into ventilation systems. "At the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture we have been able to retrofit this technology to help keep the building cool as well as safe and secure."

In addition to smoke vents, Bilco manufactures a range of access hatches, floor doors and access covers.

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