Smoke control systems must remain operational to protect occupants of high-rise buildings
The recent discovery that the smoke control system on Grenfell Tower had been inoperative for over a year before the refurbishment and that the tenant management organisation (TMO) had known about it and done nothing to mitigate the risk for the building occupants came as no surprise to those of us within the industry. In our experience, it is common for clients to leave reported defects for many months before authorising corrective action.
In their March 2020 Fire Engineering Thematic Technical Report that audited buildings with mechanical smoke ventilation systems, the London Fire Brigade found that 20% of systems inspected failed to operate which would indicate that the problem of defective smoke control provision may be widespread.
There are some common themes for high-rise residential buildings that can contribute to a catastrophic system failure of the type experienced at Grenfell Tower.
- Through using a competent smoke control specialist.
- Regularly carrying out safety checks.
- Consider remote monitoring of smoke control systems where there is no onsite facility staff.
- Making sure all defects are fixed.
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