We all recognize the damage a fire’s flames can inflict on our property and persons, but not everyone realizes the hazards posed by the smoke from a fire. Smoke and other products of combustion spread much faster than flames and account for almost 75% of fire-related fatalities. In addition to the damage smoke causes to respiratory systems, the deadly carbon monoxide carried in smoke causes blurred vision and confusion, interfering with victims’ attempts to escape. Effective smoke control, through a smoke evacuation system interfaced with a building automation system, is essential for the safety of buildings’ inhabitants.
While high-rise buildings, atrium covered shopping malls, and other unique facilities are required by state laws and building fire codes to have smoke evacuation and effective smoke control systems, smoke evacuation systems are sensible safety precautions for commercial buildings of all sizes. A proper smoke evacuation management system, integrated seamlessly with a building automation system, will use the building’s HVAC equipment to channel smoke in affected areas during a fire. Via an integrated workstation or firefighter’s override panel, a smoke evacuation system will allow the proper authorities to manage the building’s HVAC equipment to control the smoke from a fire.
Smoke evacuation system design has changed over the years as technology has evolved. Whereas smoke control systems originally just had to ventilate an affected area, they now must prevent the spread of smoke to non-affected areas of the building and/or restore a safe environment at the zone of the incident. There are several methods commonly used to manage smoke within buildings:
- Airflow Method – uses fans to shutdown airflow to unaffected areas and produce airflow to direct smoke movement
- Pressurization Method – requires systems to maintain a pressure difference between the incident zone and adjacent zones. Typically, the system is configured with 100% exhaust with zone barriers intact and closed with doors and dampers closed off to seal the zone. This method is effective in preventing the spread of smoke to other areas of the building.
- Exhaust Method within Passive Containment – uses a two-pronged approach to smoke management. Passive containment measures, which include items such as fire partitions, fire barriers, fire dampers, smoke dampers, and fire doors, are employed to contain the smoke in the zone of its origin, limiting the spread of fire and smoke. Exhaust fans are employed to remove the smoke from the incident zone, creating a safe environment that allows the removal of personnel from the area.
Advanced Control Corporation delivers industry standard building automation/smoke evacuation systems that are designed based on safety, speed, functionality and economics. Advanced Control fully integrates building automation systems with smoke evacuation systems to create complete building emergency solutions that include
- Fire / Life Safety Systems – coordinates controls to contain and reduce emergencies
- Elevator Security Control – controls elevator use and floor access via cards and readers; shuts down elevators in emergencies
- HVAC Control – provides smoke evacuation control; also turns on and off the heating system according to designated schedules (time of day, week, etc.)
- Air Quality Control – monitors and eliminates unsafe levels of CO, CO2, and NO2 in buildings and parking garages; also improves comfort by controlling humidity and eliminating unwanted odors
As the industry leader in building automation in South Florida, Advanced Control Corporation has provided thousands of buildings of all sizes with integrated building solutions that incorporate lighting control, CCTV, access control, and energy management systems with smoke evacuations systems. Contact Advanced Control Corporation today at 954.491.6660 to make your building safer and more secure than ever before!