The importance of smoke management systems in South Florida buildings
Smoke management is a more critical issue than most building owners in South Florida realize. Nearly 75% of the fatalities that occur in a building fire are actually due to the inhalation of smoke, gases, and airborne chemicals released by heat and fire rather than the flames themselves. These inhalants can travel rapidly through a building, reaching occupants that far from the conflagration. That means that without smoke management features in place, even the most sophisticated fire suppression system will leave the majority of the occupants in a commercial building exposed to danger. Since more than half of all fires in the United States are in the Southeast, according to NASA Observatory, installing smoke management systems in South Florida buildings is vitally important to the health and safety of the occupants.
Why smoke management systems are so important
When a fire occurs in a building, the fumes released as the furnishings and building materials burn are a deadly miasma of smoke, toxic chemicals, and gases including hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide. These vapors can be carried by the ventilation system, reaching every corner of even the largest commercial facilities in mere minutes. Building occupants can experience damaged respiratory systems, blurred vision, and confusion immediately upon exposure, compromising their ability to safely evacuate the building.
Currently, South Florida fire codes only require certain high-occupancy commercial buildings, such as atrium-covered shopping malls, to have smoke evacuation systems. Smoke inhalation poses a threat to all commercial building occupants, however, so smoke management systems should be an essential part of every commercial building’s automation system. As a leading provider of building automation in South Florida, Advanced Control Corporation is experienced at providing smoke management systems that seamlessly integrate into existing automation solutions.
How building smoke management systems work
Fire management teams can interface with the building’s smoke management system through the building manager’s work station or through a firefighter’s override panel. Once directed, the smoke management system utilizes a building’s existing HVAC and ventilation systems to channel smoke and fumes. Building smoke evacuation systems can confine the smoke to affected areas, prevent smoke from reaching the rest of the building, and evacuate the smoke from that area of contamination to restore a safe building environment. This smoke management is accomplished using three distinct methods:
- Airflow Method – Fans are used to direct airflow, restricting smoke movement and preventing it from entering into unaffected areas
- Pressurization Method – To prevent the spread of smoke to unaffected areas of the building, the smoke management system creates and maintains a pressure difference between the area where the incident occurred and adjacent zones. Standard configuration calls for 100% exhaust with zone barriers intact and closed with doors and dampers closed off to seal the zone.
- Exhaust Method within Passive Containment – Exhaust fans clear out smoke from the incident area, so occupants can be safely evacuated. Passive containment measures are used to contain smoke so it does not spread from the affected area. These measures include fire barriers, fire dampers, fire partitions, smoke dampers, and fire doors.
To further protect the safety of South Florida buildings occupants and property, the building smoke evacuation systems that Advanced Control Corporation installs can be upgraded with powerful security features including elevator and access control, digital CCTV recording solutions, and a wide variety of CCTV cameras.
Whether you are building a new facility or are looking to improve the safety measure in your existing structure, Advanced Control Corporation can install a building smoke management system that will ensure the safety of your tenants and property for years to come. As the industry leader in building automation in South Florida for more than 25 years, Advanced Control has improved the safety, security, and energy efficiency of thousands of large and small commercial buildings in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and throughout the rest of South Florida. Contact Advanced Control Corporation today at 954.491.6660 to discover the relief that comes from having a truly safe building environment!