Smoke Control Systems – Advice for building owners

The Government has produced important advice to building owners on the maintenance of smoke control systems which is available to download here.

Simply having a smoke-control system in your building may not be sufficient.

For a smoke control system to operate effectively during a fire it must be properly maintained. Following the Grenfell tragedy, the Government published advice in February 2019 reminding building owners of their responsibilities and the actions they must take.

Although the advice is aimed at those responsible for residential buildings of at least 18 metres in height, it may also apply to other types of building if they have smoke control systems installed.

The advice explains what a smoke control system is, where it is likely to be sited and how it operates. It explains that under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the responsible person has a duty to ensure appropriate fire measures are in place and that a fire risk assessment has been carried out.

The standards for smoke control systems are set out in BS EN 12101 and BS 9999, these explain that your smoke control systems should be tested weekly to ensure they remain fully functional. In addition, a full maintenance inspection and test should be carried out annually, by a competent person.

The advice also explains the problems which can occur with electromagnetic holding devices, saying ‘It is therefore recommended that the use of electromagnetic holding devices as part of any smoke ventilation shaft installation should be reviewed as part of fire risk assessments with consideration being given to replacing these devices with a more robust form of vent actuator.’

The advice states that the responsible person needs to review manual override controls for automatic smoke control systems to make sure that they are working and that they are easily identifiable to fire fighters.

Information is provided on what to do if you discover a fault. If it can’t be corrected immediately, a review of the Fire Risk Assessment should be undertaken to consider if fire mitigation measures need to be put in place. These measures may have an impact on other aspects of fire safety and it is important to consider these in your fire risk assessment.

Further advice and support

You can get professional advice from a qualified engineer with relevant experience in fire safety and the installation and maintenance of smoke control systems. This advice should come from a chartered professional that is registered with an accredited body.

If you are in any doubt about your responsibilities when it comes to smoke control maintenance please contact Avon Fire & Rescue Service, Technical Fire Safety Department.