What are the Best Methods for Smoke Ventilation?

Keith Koons
Keith Koons
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Woman posing

The best methods for smoke ventilation are the systems which remove the life-threatening smoke from within a building quickly and replace it with fresh, outdoor air that is safe for the employees to breathe. Allowing a dangerous concentration to accumulate can lead to fires, explosions, and equipment issues as well, which is why businesses often invest in devices that are rated well beyond what their building would normally require. In some cases, smoke ventilation can be achieved naturally with simple outgoing valves, but other cases may require electrical or hybrid technologies that can dissipate the smoke, toxic gases, and heat quickly and efficiently. Fresh return air is another crucial factor that is implemented in most smoke ventilation systems.

Ventilation systems are installed with the intention of improving the indoor air quality and the types of systems which accomplish this without involving any mechanical devices is referred to as being natural. Such a system entails the placement of windows and vents on the external walls with enough stipulated free space on the outside so as to facilitate unhindered exchange of air. Natural smoke ventilation can also be achieved by creating a difference in temperature and pressure between spaces by constructing vents and opening them into a vertically inclined shaft. This method of smoke ventilation is not recommended for basement areas though, since it could cause additional problems with excess humidity and condensation.

Alternatively, smoke ventilation in a building can also be achieved through a mechanical means by using battery-operated or electrical devices. This option can easily become complicated since it depends on an extensive layout of ducts and other back-up preparations in order to be fully functional. Since the cost can sometimes be substantial, these types of ventilation systems should be incorporated within the early planning stages of the building so that it can be installed during the initial phases of construction. These systems can move massive amounts of air so they can function as both an air purifier and an air handler, making them well worth the initial investment.

One of the latest evolutions within this field has been the emergence of hybrid smoke ventilation systems which utilize natural as well as mechanical means to function as an air purifier. A mechanical smoke ventilation kit regulates the internal environment by controlling the amount of fresh air that is forced into the structure, and at the same time, it also usually does a thorough job of removing any contaminants from inside the building. The result is usually a win-win situation since the occupants enjoy the health benefits of improved indoor air quality on one hand while delivering an effective smoke ventilation system at the same time.

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