What do you know about smoke ventilation in Residential Buildings?
Probably the biggest killer in fires of residential buildings is the smoke. Whether its due to the toxic gases, lack of oxygen or even poor visibility as the occupants attempt to evacuate. Smoke control systems (AOVs) work to get the smoke out of the communal areas by means of venting the smoke out. Sounds straight forward and yet its only relatively recent that systems have become compulsory on residential buildings above 3 storeys. Sadly though, many facilities and property managers, who are responsible for the fire safety of the buildings, are not fully aware of the legal requirements for the maintenance of these life-saving systems. Often they are certainly not aware who they can trust when it comes to smoke ventilation maintenance.
What is the Law?
Smoke ventilation systems must be maintained to a good working order and fit for purpose, safeguarding the lives of the people with the building. And it is the building managers who are responsible to ensure that this maintenance is carried out correctly. AOV Maintenance
Maintenance of the systems is mandated by British Standard 7346-8. This states a minimum of two annual service checks by suitably qualified and trained engineer.
If you have a maintenance contract for the smoke vents with a regular fire safety contractor, ask yourself these questions?
Are you sure of their ability to correctly service and repair your system?
Have they completed the system manufacturers training?
Do they have access to the original manufacturers design cause and effect plans?
Have the correct equipment to fully and correctly diagnose any faults?
Are they have access to the manufacturers original equipment and parts? Often these are only available to certified and licensed partners.
If the answer is no to any of these questions then its highly likely that you are not fulfilling the requirements for maintaining compliance for fire safety for that building. Therefore we would recommend that you do look for a maintenance contractor that does indeed meet all of the above criteria. A good method of checking is whether the contractor are members of The Smoke Control Association – members have to have completed stringent assessments and have proved their competency in smoke ventilation systems. Current members are listed here.
Who can service them?
These days budgets are tight, especially for housing associations and the like. Understandably, the pressure is on the property managers to keep maintenance costs to a minimum. A maintenance contract with twice annual service checks is compulsory by law. And they MUST have a contract in place to maintain that compliance. If the original smoke vent manufacturer provides a maintenance service then that is certainly a solution to maintain compliance. Although separate life saving systems, they are likely to linked to each other and so there may be need for the smoke vent contractor work with the fire alarm contractor. Possibly requiring them to co-ordinate site visits together which may be difficult. This can cause delays in getting the systems running correctly in the event of a fault.
Having a contractor correctly maintaining the equipment with the correct parts will also prolong the life of ventilation system. This prevents potential early replacement of the whole system which would be at considerable expense to the organisation.
The Expense of separate contractors
By having separate contractors will be potentially expensive for the housing association or property managers of the building. This would also increase the administration for them, including trying to co-ordinate them together.
Here’s THE SOLUTION for you
An ideal solution would be to have a contractor that is suitably qualified to meet all the above criteria for the smoke ventilation maintenance as per BS7346-8, but also are legally qualified to cover the service contracts on the other fire safety systems including the fire alarm, but also for the fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, fire doors.
By rolling these into a single service contract you can ensure as the person responsible for the building fire safety, you are meeting your legal requirements and equally ensuring the residents are safe. But also, benefit from potentially significant cost savings.
Introducing our Tailored For You service contracts
We have recently introduced our Tailored For You service and maintenance contracts. With our new, improved SLAs, regular bi-annual service checks, priority response times, 24/7 emergency support direct to our own engineers. Optional inclusive same-day emergency calls, discounted rates on parts, inclusive consumable items (eg. batteries), online tracking of service calls. We tailor the package to your exact needs to a budget that works for you. The more services that you add, even the more locations you need covering, the overall better saving for you. All on a single, regular invoice covering all your Fire Smoke Ventilation and Security requirements with a single point of contact. I’m sure you will agree that’s going to be a lot less administration for you!