Servicing a smoke control system is essential to the safety of building occupants. Moreover, in case of a fire, it also protects and assists firefighters in accessing the premises. To ensure the safe functionality of smoke control systems, regular maintenance and checks should be performed at the premises. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (PRO) details the smoke control maintenance regulations surrounding life-safety systems. Unfortunately, it can often be overlooked or not fully understood.
Smoke Control Maintenance Regulations: Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
According to Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the responsible person must ensure that the premises, facilities, equipment, and any devices for use by or for the protection of firefighters and relevant persons, are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that it is an offense for any responsible person or any other person with control of premises, to fail to comply, where that failure places one or more relevant persons at risk of death or serious injury in the case of fire. Therefore, we understand from the RRO that life-safety systems must be maintained by law. Failure to do so could result in death or injury and prosecution for failing to comply.
How often should my smoke ventilation system be serviced?
BS EN 12101 and BS 9999 set out the frequency of tests and what should be checked. All in all, there are three types of services – weekly, monthly and annual. It is essential and mandatory that smoke control systems are serviced annually by a competent person. Additionally, weekly and monthly tests should be performed to ensure the system is fully operational throughout the year.
Weekly Operational Tests
Weekly tests of the system should be carried out to check the operation of the system. For mechanical systems, checks should be made to determine whether the fans are running satisfactorily and that the ventilation system has operated. Where there is a backup generator in place, the fuel level should be checked and topped up as necessary.
Monthly tests should be carried out in addition to weekly tests. During the monthly test, the failure of the primary power supply should be simulated and a check made that the system has automatically switched over to the secondary power supply. Where the secondary supply is via a backup generator or power cell (battery or UPS), the secondary supply must be able to energise the system for a minimum of three hours. A zero airflow condition should be simulated to check that the system switches automatically to the standby fan/s and that they are running satisfactorily.
The weekly and monthly checks are typically carried out by general maintenance personnel for a building. Usually, they have received basic hands-on training from the manufacturer/installer of the system. If the systems are maintained by a competent organisation, they will at best be tested at six-month intervals during smoke control maintenance visits. Read more about the maintenance of smoke control systems in our Ultimate Guide to Smoke Control Maintenance.