Smoke control study highlights needed fire safety in residential care buildings

Smoke control study highlights needed fire safety in residential care buildings

A UK company has completed a study highlighting the best ways to better protect those in residential care with more effective smoke control measures.

Warringtonfire completed the smoke control study for the Flemish Government. When asked about the goals of the second study, also called the VIPA2 study, Pieter Poppe – Project Manager said: “We wanted to identify the effectiveness of smoke control measures by means of five large-scale fire tests and additional CFD-simulations (CFD: Computational Fluid Dynamics) as part of the evacuation strategy for non-self-reliant occupants of a residential care building.”

The VIPA2 study led to new ways of considering fire safety for more vulnerable members of society, including citizens who reside within care buildings. Many of these buildings can include common areas and shared facilities that often have combustible materials such as kitchens and sofas.etc These are a possible fire hazard and as a result can hamper evacuation routes, make a fire even more dangerous and increase the level of smoke having a drastic impact on smoke inhalation in the event of a fire. This risk is currently not considered within the concept of the current Belgian fire safety regulations.

Poppe added: “The VIPA2 study has scientifically demonstrated the effectiveness of different kinds of applications of a smoke control system in a residential care building. This kind of smoke control system is not only limited to residential care buildings, but can also be applied to all types of structures with similar geometry. Such application is not mentioned in any normative document related to Smoke and Heat Exhaust Ventilation systems (SHEV-system) and is therefore very innovative.”

This completed research, has also informed a further third study; the VIPA3 study.

Poppe, who is also Head of the Consultancy Department of the Institute for Fire Safety (ISIB), added: “In the VIPA3 study, an assessment framework has been developed where minimum fire safety measures are determined as part of the evacuation strategy (i.e. immediate evacuation or Defend in Place) in case of non-self-reliant occupants of a residential care building.

“These fire safety measures can be active (e.g. residential smoke control system, fire screen, automatic extinguishing) or passive safety measures (e.g. fire resistant door, smoke control door, fire resistant damper). The effectiveness of the applied fire safety measures has been demonstrated through large-scale fire tests and additional CFD simulations (CFD: Computational Fluid Dynamics) as described in the VIPA1 and VIPA2 studies.”

The three studies will now be used as stepping stones in creating a safer and more secure future for non-self-reliant individuals, by potentially guiding future regulations, stated Warringtonfire.