Smoke the real killer in structural fires: Why you need smoke seals

The scenes on the evening news are devastating when a structural fires occurs. Families devastated, buildings and property destroyed, communities distraught. But while news footage focuses on the drama of buildings engulfed in flames, it’s actually smoke that is the major contributor to fatalities and serious injuries. Read on to understand the impact of smoke and preventative measures to limit its effect.

Stopping the Spread of Smoke

Fire-Grand-Rapids-factoryA research project into Australian fire fatalities over a five year period confirmed that smoke inhalation was the major cause of death, combining with burns to cause even more fatalities.[1] When fire breaks out in a building, the risk to life safety is two-fold.  Firstly, there is the fire itself and the buoyant hot smoke immediately around the fire.  Secondly, there is the cooler smoke and toxic gases, which can rapidly spread through the building, threatening people and property some distance from the fire. While smoke alarms provide an early warning system to give people time to escape from a fire, there is more that can be done to address the smoke itself. When it comes to commercial buildings, smoke door assemblies are designed to limit the spread of smoke through door openings, keeping exit paths clear and functional.

Smoke Door Specs and Standards

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) references smoke doors in section C, Specification C3.4, noting that their construction must ensure that smoke will not pass from one side of the door to the other. “Performance Based Alternative Solutions” are also permitted, allowing Fire Engineers to frequently reference two important Standards:

  1. AS1530 Part 7:2007-Smoke control assemblies-Ambient & medium temperature leakage test procedure
  2. AS6905:2007-Smoke Doors

These Standards allow practitioners to specify smoke doors with quantifiable levels of performance, with the knowledge that installed assemblies will meet their building design requirements.

The Kilargo Seal Solution

Australian company Kilargo will fit an appropriate sealing system which, when properly located and secured, assists in limiting the spread of smoke from one building compartment to the next. Life safety is given top priority, with sealing solutions ‘fit for purpose’ combining with a regime of continuous testing & development.

[1] Fire Fatalities: Who’s At Risk, Queensland Fire & Rescue Authority, 1998