What is a stairwell AOV system?

Stairwell automatic opening ventilators (AOV) are used in the stairwells of flats and office buildings where protecting the common escape routes is of paramount importance. 

A stairwell smoke ventilator is an AOV which provides at least 1.0m2 of free area when open. It usually serves one of two purposes;

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Mechanical Smoke Shafts: 7 steps to successful selection for apartment buildings

Mechanical smoke shafts are the most common method of smoke control in high rise apartments. Although they are in essence very simple systems comprised of relatively few components, they are not yet included in the Building Regulations and tend to be shrouded in mystery, and thought of as a specialist package.

However, selection and installation of mechanical smoke shaft systems are well within the realm of competence of most mechanical or electrical contractors. We explore the steps that should be taken for successful selection in apartment buildings.

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How does a smoke shaft system work?

‘Smoke shaft’ is the common term for ventilation systems in the lobbies of tall buildings, used to maintain tenable conditions in the common escape routes in the event of a fire in the building.

They are essentially a simple ventilation system designed to extract any smoke leaking into a common lobby to protect the escape stairs. Typically, a vertical builder’s work duct rising through the building would be used to extract smoke from the lobbies. Each lobby would have a damper connected to the builder’s work duct.

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Electrical contractor self-installs mechanical smoke shaft system

Wheeler Electrical won the electrical contract for the new student accommodation at Camberwell College of Arts, which included installing an 11-storey mechanical smoke shaft system. With support from Easivent, Wheeler Electrical decided to self-install the system using Easivent’s modular smoke shaft system. Read our case study...

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Acceptance Testing for Smoke Shaft Systems

Smoke control is an important life safety feature of any building. Equipment and systems relating to smoke control and ventilation must be designed and installed correctly for the building to ensure safety of occupants and where appropriate, fire fighters.

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Trade Contractors Doubling Profits by Self Installing Smoke Shafts

In line with the recent trend among main contractors to self deliver MEP services, some M&E and fire alarm contractors are following a similar route by bringing smoke control in house.

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What size fan do I need for a mechanical smoke shaft?

After deciding the flow/extract rate and the size of the mechanical smoke shaft you’ll now have all the variables required to select the fan needed to extract smoke from the fire zone. It is usual to provide run and standby fans which are typically rated at 300 0C for 1 hour. They tend to be mounted in series on the roof with flexible connections and anti-vibration mounts along with back draught dampers to prevent cold air being drawn into the building. A duct resistance should be completed for the installation once the design has been fixed.

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What size should my mechanical smoke shaft be?

When you have decided on your flow/extract rate, the next step is to decide on the size of the builder’s work shaft that is needed to transport the smoke to the external atmosphere.

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