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Published on 29 January 2019 15:23

The Use of Glazed Screens to Control the Spread of Smoke and Fire in Buildings

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Key Learning outcomes
  • Understand and acknowledge the risk of smoke in a building fire.
  • Understand how to advise the client on The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
  • Understand how to ensure installations are completed with the correct documentation.
  • Understand how to ensure that screens supplied form part of a building fire safety system.
One of the earliest forms of fire screen dates to about 1750 and was placed in front of an open fire to reduce radiant heat. Perhaps not the most resilient of fire screens when we think of today’s high performance buildings, but its early use gives us an insight as to why fire protection within our modern buildings today is so important.

Radiation of heat can range anywhere between uncomfortable to deadly when fire is present so is an important issue to consider in all buildings. One of the simplest approaches will be a non combustible wall - but this leaves little to the designers imagination, not to mention the need for natural; light.

It was only in the late 1920’s when wire was introduced into glass that the first fire resistant glasses became available. Wired glass was extensively used in commercial buildings as a safety glass in areas where light was required. Many overhead areas of glazing still use this type of glass which still meets current legislative standards.

This short CPD Article offers an insight to the standards and what is achievable today. The CPD is also available in a face to face presentation format.

1.0 Fire Facts

The number one cause of death in fires is smoke inhalation - 50% to 80% of deaths occur before any injuries due to burns (data from a government report ‘Fire Statistics: Great Britain April 2013 to March 2014’). Often smoke incapacitates so quickly that people are overcome and can’t make it to an otherwise accessible exit. The synthetic materials commonplace in today’s homes and offices produce especially dangerous substances. As a fire grows inside a building, it will often consume most of the available oxygen, slowing the burning process. This “incomplete combustion” results in toxic gases.

Death can occur by, simple asphyxiation, chemical irritation or chemical asphyxiation. ‘Asphyxiation’ can be due to inhaling carbon monoxide which takes the space of oxygen within our blood supply. ‘Chemical irritants’, such as sulphur dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen chloride and chlorine can cause the airways to swell and/or mucus to build up blocking the airway. ‘Chemical asphyxiation’ damages cells and stops the supply of oxygen to the body, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and hydrogen sulphide are often produced in fires. It is known that the worst of these gasses produced in combustion is carbon monoxide. With this in mind all our offices, places of work and dwellings must be adequately protected, but are they?

The owners of all buildings are are now held personally responsive for fire safety under he Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005. Employers and/or building owners must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be carried out either as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise. Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.

Building Bulletin 100: Design for fire safety in schools (2007) This fire safety design guide applies to nursery schools, primary and secondary schools, academies and city technology colleges, special schools and pupil referral units. It is the normal means of compliance with building regulations for fire safety design in new school buildings and sets out the Department's policy on sprinklers in schools, which was launched in March 2007.
Two to three breaths of toxic smoke will affect your ability to breathe, a sensation similar to drowning and will render you unconscious.
Two to three breaths of toxic smoke will affect your ability to breathe, a sensation similar to drowning and will render you unconscious.
 
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Kevin Mellor
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kmellor@aluprof.co.uk
The information contained in the CPD article web pages is not intended and accordingly shall not be relied upon either as a substitute for professional advice or judgement or to provide legal or other advice with respect to any particular circumstance. RIBA Enterprises accepts no responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the information contained.
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