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Putting a damper on fire

By March 26, 2014News

In a growing number of residential multi occupancy buildings, especially in busy urban locations, the ground floor is home to restaurants and fast food outlets while the floors above comprise domestic dwellings. Even where this is not the case and the entire property is residential, fire in any part of the building poses a greater risk to life if the fire is allowed to spread, especially through ductwork – often a vulnerable point in a multiple occupancy property. Do you give this enough thought? Why not share a few of our thoughts on the subject?

Many multi occupancy buildings were constructed at a time when fire regulations were less stringent than they are now. But there are several measures which can be taken to reduce the risk of the spread of fire where possible. The main weapon against fire is compartmentation – the insulation of each individual dwelling to help prevent the spread of fire. The chink in the armour of this can be communal ductwork, which links dwellings together despite insulation.

A new ductwork system is not always feasible, so to prevent the spread of fire, it is wise to install intumescent fire dampers to the vents into ductwork. This may not restrict the spread of smoke, but will help to limit the spread of flames and hot gases, slowing down the spread of fire. This helps to preserve the integrity of compartmentation and will go some way towards reducing the gaps in each fire resistant enclosure.

Clean ductwork is also a good defence. Regular inspection of all the ventilation system components and internal condition of the ductwork is important to ensure the system works effectively and has not been damaged or compromised. The level of fibres and deposits within the duct system should also be logged so cleaning can be planned to prevent excessive build-up and increased fire risk.

We’ll be looking at this in more depth at our University of Stirling free seminar, so why not book a place? Sparing two hours on 4th April may help you to save lives.