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Background and general information

An extensive search of the academic and engineering literature has been performed, and the most useful references are included in Appendix G. Appendix A is based largely on the review that was produced as one of the project intermediate outputs [Miles 2004a].

The various smoke management schemes that have previously been considered for common access areas of multi-storey residential buildings, or are currently in use, are described below together with comments on their use and suitability, and relevant research findings where available. Here ‘common access area’ refers to the corridors, lobbies (or vestibules) and stairs that may form the egress path from a unit of accommodation (dwelling) to outside the building. While lift shafts can also be considered as part of the common access region of a building, the smoke management of these is not addressed specifically here.

Following the terminology adopted by Klote and others [Klote & Milke, 2002], the term 'smoke management' in this appendix refers to all methods that can be used to modify the movement of smoke to the benefit of occupants or fire-fighters. This includes pressurisation, natural smoke exhaust etc, which are discussed below. Smoke management measures may be used in isolation or in combination.

The origins of today’s smoke management schemes can be traced back to the work of the late 1960s and 1970s, largely in the UK and North America, which had been commissioned following an increased awareness of the fire dangers associated with high rise buildings, and in particular the problem of smoke spreading away from the compartment of fire origin.

The two building applications where smoke management is most widely used are in the protection of high-rise (commercial and residential) buildings and large (atria etc) spaces such as shopping malls and warehouses. The focus of the current review is on multi- storey buildings, and specifically on residential, multi-dwelling buildings with common escape routes.

Some of the earliest research into smoke control dates from the late 1930s, when the occurrence of fires involving buildings fitted with air handling (HVAC) was studied in the USA, with the recommendation that air handling systems be shut down in the event of fire [NBFU, 1939]. More rigorous studies commenced in the 1960s, when significant work was undertaken in the North America on high-rise building smoke movement [e.g. Tamura, 1969]. At the same time, formative research was conducted also at the UK Fire Research Station, where work on natural (wall opening) ventilation [e.g. Malhortra, 1967] and pressurisation [e.g. Hobson & Stewart, 1972] was undertaken.

Early field studies on real buildings have typically been performed without fire, i.e. a study of the air movement processes due to stack effect etc. Later studies using fire sources were undertaken, with particular focus in the performance of stairwell pressurisation and zone smoke control systems [e.g. DeCicco, 1973].

© Building Research Establishment Ltd 2005

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