Ongoing budgetary pressures and a lack of familiarity by local authorities and housing associations about the strict regulations that govern the maintenance of smoke ventilation systems, has given rise to a worrying trend that will leave them exposed to prosecution for non-compliance unless it is addressed.

In an effort to integrate fire systems maintenance and save money in the process, many HAs and LAs are ‘bundling’ smoke ventilation maintenance into a multi-disciplined ‘fire service’ contract, where the contractor is responsible for all fire and smoke system maintenance, often across several locations and building types.

However, under the scope of various British Standards, including BS9991, BS9999 and BS7346 Part 8, together with Building Regulations ADB; the European EN12101 standard and best practice guidance documents from the Smoke Control Association, there are specific maintenance requirements and procedures that must be followed.

The real ‘teeth’ behind this complex and vital legislative framework is the Regulatory Reform Order (RRO). This gives fire service officers an extensive range of enforcement powers in situations where smoke control systems have been inadequately maintained under the demands of the various pieces of legislation.

The penalties for non-compliance can be significant, including the prosecution of companies, building owners, landlords and individuals responsible for building maintenance, resulting in punitive fines as well as custodial sentences.

At SE Controls, we have already been directly involved in a significant number of projects to correct problems caused where general fire contractors have found themselves out of their depth and unable to maintain the smoke control system within the demands of the regulations.

In one instance the maintenance company had failed to notice a smoke vent that had been ‘nailed shut’ rendering it in operable and dangerous, while another recent case or poor maintenance from an inexperienced contractor resulted in an automatic smoke vent falling out of the building. A major internal review followed, together with the involvement of the HSE and prosecutions are now being considered.

On a number of other remedial projects, fire officers or building control have already imposed close notices on the buildings, resulting in disruption, the removal of tenants and large unbudgeted costs for the housing association. Clearly, these could have been avoided if the specialised smoke ventilation maintenance contract was kept separate and handled by a specialist company, such as SE Controls.

By Simon North – Service and Maintenance Division Manager with SE Controls 

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Nittan’s Evolution EV-DP Dual Wavelength Photoelectric smoke detectors have been installed into The Cliff Hotel & Spa in Cardigan, West Wales by Fire and Security Alarms Ltd. (FAS) Carmarthen.

The Cliff Hotel & Spa is a large family-owned hotel featuring 70 en-suite bedrooms, spa and gym facilities, function suite and a golf course. As part of a hotel wide refurbishment project, the existing fire alarm system has been removed and replaced with a sophisticated Nittan Evolution system featuring 260 Nittan devices, including over 200 EV-DP smoke detectors. The system runs on four loops controlled by an Advanced Electronics control panel.

Nittan Dual Wavelength Photoelectric smoke detectors were selected by installer Fire and Security Alarms Ltd. (FAS) to prevent further issues of false alarms that the hotel had been experiencing previously. The primary cause of these had been steam escaping from the en-suite bathrooms and activating the smoke alarms.

As an NSI Gold, BAFE and NICEIC approved contractor, Fire and Security Alarms Ltd. (FAS) provides both design, installation and maintenance of fire and security systems primarily in West Wales. It has a diverse customer base including nursing and residential homes, factories, shops, schools, social and domestic housing. It has built its business on the of quality of its services, providing effective fire and security solutions to customer’s requirements, including The Cliff Hotel where it identified Evolution EV-DP smoke detectors as an ideal solution to the false alarm issue.

Nittan Evolution EV-DP smoke detectors have been designed to reduce false alarms caused by non-combustion products such as steam, dust and aerosols. Unlike other industry standard (single optical sensor) smoke detectors on the market that claim to distinguish between smoke and non-combustion products, the EV-DP effectively measures the actual particle size in the chamber via its combined IR and blue LED technology. As steam and dust are much larger particles than smoke, the detector won’t false alarm.

Nittan EV-DP alarms are not just highly resistant to false alarms, but come with a number of key features and benefits, including their use of a sophisticated and highly flexible Sine Wave FSK protocol for data transfer to and from the panel. This protocol also allows for substantial amounts of information to be transmitted back to the panel at very high speeds. Furthermore, they come with a 360 degree OMNIVIEW LED indicator, permitting clear and visible indication of the sensor’s operation from any angle. Increased EMC immunity is also achieved by the inclusion of a “Bandpass Discriminator Circuit” which is built into every sensor head and loop device.

The Nittan Group has been at the forefront of the international fire protection industry since 1954 and has sales, R&D and manufacturing bases in four countries, including the UK. The company continuously innovates and strives for exceptional quality products that meet the highest of standards.

For sales information, please contact Nittan on 01483 769 555 or by email at or visit the website