Implementing modular UniForce mechanical extract system with Group SCS’s support

Self-installing smoke control solutions

Wheeler Electrical won the electrical contract for the new student accommodation at Camberwell College of Arts. The project included installing an 11-storey mechanical smoke shaft system. With support from Group SCS, Wheeler Electrical opted for implementing smoke control solutions using Group SCS’s modular smoke shaft system. Read our case study below.

Camberwell College of Arts new student accommodation

Camberwell College of Arts is situated on Peckham Road, London, and is a popular choice for many with around 1,600 courses in art, design and conservation. Its new student accommodation, also based on Peckham Road, offers 256 rooms to house people attending the college. Built by Hollybrook and completed in early 2017, it is now providing student accommodation for the upcoming academic year.

Wheeler Electrical won the electrical contract for the development, which included the smoke control solution. With support from Group SCS, Wheeler Electrical decided to implement a solution using Group SCS’s modular smoke shaft system with fan skid and door openers, a natural addressable shaft system and a core with AOV corridor windows.

The smoke control solution

This mechanical smoke shaft system is a ventilation system designed to maintain tenable conditions in the common escape routes in the event of a fire in the building. The system is activated by the building’s fire alarm: As soon as smoke is detected in the protected lobby, a damper opens into the smoke shaft and the automatic opening vent (AOV) at the top of the stairwell also opens.

The stair door on the fire floor automatically opens thanks to a 24v door opener, provided by Group SCS. These door openers are not attached to the doors – they have steel arms attached to a roller which simply push the door open. This leaves the stair doors on each level free for everyday use by the building’s residents.

In the meantime, the roof-mounted fan skid at the top of the smoke shaft starts to extract the smoke from the lobby via the smoke shaft damper with replacement air being pulled in from the stairwell AOV. This prevents the lobby from becoming smoke logged and stops any smoke from getting into the firefighting stairs, leaving them clear for the firefighters to safely enter the building and make their way to the fire floor.

The student accommodation at Camberwell consists of three cores in total, each with its own arrangement: Core 1 has the 11-storey mechanical extract system; Core 2 has a five-storey natural smoke shaft system; and Core 3, which is four storeys, has AOV windows in each of the corridors with an AOV at the head of the stairs.

All three systems are connected back to a touchscreen HMI panel adjacent to the fire alarm panel. This will provide the fire service with a central facility to operate the entire building’s smoke control system using the touchscreen graphics to navigate through the screens or the push buttons positioned on the outside at the edge of the panel if the operator is using a gloved hand.

The modular system

As electrical contractors – such as Wheeler Electrical – often have their own labour on-site already, it makes financial sense to use Group SCS’s modular UniForce mechanical extract system for simple buildings, such as this student accommodation.

“Group SCS got involved when Wheeler Electrical asked us to provide a quotation for the supply of the equipment at tender stage.

“When Wheeler Electrical won the project, Group SCS assisted in the choice of system and type of equipment to use to help the self-install.”

Michael Washbourne, Group SCS Approved Contractor Development Manager

Group SCS offers a range of easy-to-select and install standard AOV and smoke shaft components that can be used in isolation or in complete smoke shaft system projects. It can provide brochures and datasheets to help contractors install smoke shaft systems, as well as extensive training through its Approved Contractor Network. Find out more about Group SCS’s smoke ventilation systems here.

The fan skid was chosen due to the ease of installation. The skid is supplied with a run and standby fan set which is pre-wired into a control system on the skid which obviously saves installation time on the roof. You can also have the option of a skid-mounted Automatic Transfer Switch so the client can decide if they are supplying a maintained 400V supply or a primary and secondary 400V supply to the roof. The ATS is also fitted with a maintenance bypass facility to allow engineers to work on the unit without disconnecting the essential supply to the fan controls.

“The mechanical installation time is also reduced as the skid is supplied with a pre-formed ductwork transformation that connects the inlet to the fans to the top of the smoke shaft. The builder’s work drawings are provided with the tender information pack so the client has plenty of time to pre-form the mounting curb for the ductwork.”

The other advantage is the fact that all the documentation including the Design Specification, Technical Submission, drawings and the CFD report are already prepared and so are available for the client at tender stage which again speeds up the whole design and selection process.”

The quick ‘off-the-shelf’ supply of the skid unit and roof vent at Camberwell meant the build could be quickly sealed watertight on the roof, smoothing over the build process considerably.

“We found installing the smoke shaft system pretty straightforward really – once you have done one floor it’s all very repetitious.

“I particularly liked the skid-mounted fan – it saved a lot of time and effort. Working with Group SCS was as always pretty easy.”

Ed Wheeler, Director of Wheeler Electrical

Michael Washbourne added: “This was the first self-install project utilising the new fan skid arrangement, but as we had worked with Wheeler Electrical before on natural smoke systems we knew that they had the capability to get involved in the mechanical smoke shaft system as it basically works on the same principle, the only difference being you have a run and standby fan set at the top of the shaft and not a mechanical vent.”
“It was an exciting project for us as it was the first time we had used the skid and controls; we had every confidence that the equipment would be suitable and that the installation would be top notch so it was really rewarding to see the system all installed and working correctly.”

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