In this article, we’ll take a look at the different routes to compliance and offer our recommendations for compliant smoke control solutions. We hope this helps specifiers and welcome any feedback as well as questions you may have.

Fire-engineering vs ADB guidance route to compliance

When the layout of the building permits, we would always recommend following the prescriptive guidance in Approved Document B. With this route to approval, the relevant product standards and performance criteria are clearly laid out and referenced so there should be minimal room for confusion and in general terms, all parties will have a clear understanding of the performance objectives. Here, the specification task is simplified as it is more or less a matter of stating that the system shall be fully compliant with the requirements of Approved Document B.

For fire-engineered solutions, particularly mechanical extract systems, it is advisable when compiling specifications to be very clear about which standards are applicable. Moreover, it is important to explicitly include them in the documentation to ensure the final system is robust and reliable. One of the problems for specifiers is that they can be over-reliant on the knowledge of the specialist that is providing design advice, and this can lead to omissions in the tender documentation that can prove costly.

For HRRBs however, we have a very simple hack that can make specifications bulletproof without the need for any specialist knowledge whatsoever. Continue reading for our simplified guide to specifications for mechanical extract and other fire-engineered smoke control solutions.

The Big Two

Smoke Control Association Guide

Guidance on smoke control to common escape routes in residential buildings

Extensively referenced during the smoke control module of the Grenfell Inquiry and now in its third edition, this document is the industry bible for fire-engineered smoke control systems for HRRBs. It is the most comprehensive guidance available and it covers both the design and product standards. It is the only document that comprehensively covers mechanical extract systems and references all of the other relevant documents. The SCA Guide is available online for free on the Smoke Control Association’s website.

If you only reference one document, then this should be the one to use as it covers all bases for high-rise residential buildings.

Including a specific clause stating that the proposal shall be fully in accordance with the current version of this document is the best way to ensure that the design and products meet current best practices.

BS 7346-8:2013

Components for smoke control systems. Code of practice for planning, design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance

This rarely referenced document forms the basis of the IFCSDI/19 third party certification scheme for smoke control contractors and is a catch-all for the implementation of all systems. It covers everything from detailed design to maintenance, offers a model process for interpreting a fire strategy and developing and installing a system. There are clear guidelines for documentation right through to commissioning including how to test and present results, an area that we find is often poorly managed. Following this document should make the project run as smoothly as possible, given all the other variables. BS 7346-8:2013 can be purchased from the official BSI website.

A summary of advice on standards to reference

To sum it all up, this is our universal approach to specifying smoke control systems for HRRBs. We also recommend specifying that the vendor should be a member of the Smoke Control Association as extra protection. All SCA members are third party certified, committed to only using third party tested and certified products and carry a minimum P.I insurance level of £5m.

If you want to know more about the individual standards for the different products that make up a system you can read our article on how to ensure compliance with specifications. It’s packed with interesting facts about fans, dampers, cables, ductwork, and the like.

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