What Is Smoke Ventilation?
Smoke ventilation eliminates smoke as well as heat from a burning building and keeps escape routes as well as fire services access areas free of smoke.
Smoke ventilation is recommended because it can save lives as majority of fatalities in fires are caused by smoke inhalation and not by the fire itself.
Fire technical installations must meet a range of specific regulatory requirements, including smoke ventilation design based on automatic opening or closing of selected windows to ensure that people exit buildings safely.
At GreenLight, we have wide range of experiences in providing expert advice in the design, installation and servicing of smoke ventilation solutions.
Differences Between Natural & Mechanical Smoke Extraction
The highest hazard of fire is not the exposure to direct flames, rather the harmful effects of spreading smoke and toxic gases. According to recent studies over 70% of fire victims in fact suffer from smoke and fume related injuries. Smoke is dangerous so it must be extracted as efficiently and rapidly as possible before large quantities accumulate and cloud the area.
Rescue crews must search the burning building and extract every person caught inside. Therefore, the quality of smoke extraction solutions depends on speedy and efficient response. The faster an area is smoke free, the better.
Natural smoke extraction develops the natural phenomenon of thermal rising, in which hot smoke rises to the ceiling and flows outside through openings in the roof or near it. The rising smoke is concentrated near the opening and flows out. Therefore, hot toxic gases are kept near the ceiling while the lower part of the structure remains relatively smoke free.
Mechanical smoke extraction uses mechanical ventilators installed throughout the structure in order to pump the smoke out.
Natural smoke extraction does not depend on electrical devices and outlets that tend to malfunction or collapse during a fire. Another benefit of natural smoke extraction is its efficiency. The system’s openings are programmed to become wider when the temperature rises. Thus, more smoke can flow out.
Furthermore, there is no risk of oxygen flowing into the structure and kindling the fire because the openings are designated for smoke extraction only. This rapid flow of smoke outside makes the burning structure safer and saves human lives. An integrated smoke extraction system that includes smoke insulation, smoke extraction and highly pressurised water mist units can also prevent and control damages caused when the fire is extinguished.
Natural smoke extraction systems are highly resistant to heat (up to 1000oC) and comply with smoke inhalation injury standard requirements. Their components withstand strong wind gusts (up to 3000 Pascal). Their rust chemical coating also withstands natural wear and tear.
Compared to natural smoke extraction, the ventilators in mechanical systems consume the same amounts of electricity. Their pipe diameter is fixed, so the system’s capacity to extract smoke does not change according to the scope of the fire. Therefore, large amounts of smoke and toxic fumes that should be rapidly pumped out might linger in the building.
Natural smoke extraction systems are critical for saving lives and preserving properties. As such these systems have become a standard requirement in many countries. The systems are very cost effective and convenient. Natural smoke extraction and ventilation has become the accepted professional standard instead of mechanical air pumps and ventilators.
Prices of Mechanical and Natural Smoke Extraction
Mechanical smoke extraction is expensive in terms of initial kit and installation costs due to the inclusion of fans, dampers and their requirement for a secondary power supply.
Both natural and mechanical systems can offer significant advantages to a project, both in terms of smoke clearance and cost or space savings, deciding whether a mechanical or natural smoke ventilation system will offer the greatest advantage depends upon several factors. These factors include property’s design and developer’s objectives.
By working with experienced engineers from GreenLight for a project’s early stages is vital. The most suitable system and combination of systems can be selected, forming a solution which produces the best possible result for a property.