Smoke Control Testing Involves a Rigorous Evaluation That Ensures Safety and Efficacy

TERPconsulting’s licensed FPEs are certified to conduct smoke control testing as mandated by IBC 909

What is smoke control system testing?

Smoke control testing is a critical component of fire safety and building design. As mandated by International Building Code (IBC) Section 909, it involves a series of evaluations and system testing to ensure that a building’s smoke control systems and strategies function effectively in the event of a fire.

TERPconsulting performs smoke control testing that involves rigorous assessments and evaluations to verify the effectiveness of smoke control systems within buildings. These systems are designed to manage and limit the spread of smoke, heat, and toxic gases during a fire incident, providing occupants with clear escape routes and aiding emergency responders in their efforts.

Smoke control systems, which can include smoke barriers, pressurization systems, exhaust systems, and smoke control zones, are evaluated by TERPconsulting’s licensed experts to ensure they operate as designed. This includes testing the activation of smoke detection and fire alarm systems that trigger smoke control responses.

Do the fire protection engineers at TERPconsulting perform smoke control system testing?

TERPconsulting’s licensed fire professional engineers (FPEs) are certified in performing smoke control testing under the International Building Code (IBC) Section 909. Required to be completed by a licensed engineer during the design of newly constructed high-rise buildings, malls, underground buildings, stages, platforms, technical production areas, and atriums in accordance with IBC 909, the team at TERPconsulting has in-depth experience performing smoke control testing. If you are in a California jurisdiction, smoke control testing requirements fall under the California Building Code (CBC) and must be performed by a California-licensed Deputy Smoke Control Inspector.

What type of buildings require a smoke control system under IBC 909?

Buildings taller than 75 feet, including skyscrapers and high-rise residential or commercial towers, often require smoke control systems. The certified team at TERPconsulting performs smoke control testing on buildings with large open spaces, such as shopping malls, airports, and atriums often found in hotels or office buildings, which require smoke control systems to manage smoke dispersion in these expansive areas.

TERPconsulting’s experts also perform smoke control testing on systems in tunnels, underground parking garages, and subway stations. Additionally, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities have stringent fire safety requirements, and smoke control systems are essential to protect patients, staff, and valuable equipment.

Large sports venues such as stadiums and entertainment arenas may require smoke control systems to ensure the safety of many spectators. Performance venues, theaters, and auditoriums may use smoke control systems to protect audiences and performers.

What steps are involved in the smoke control system testing process?

TERPconsulting’s smoke control system testing begins with a comprehensive review of the building’s construction plans and specifications. The experienced professional engineers and fire safety experts at TERPconsulting analyze the design to ensure compliance with local fire codes and standards such as International Building Code (IBC) Section 909. They assess factors such as smoke extraction systems, pressurization methods, pressure differentials, fire-rated doors, and ventilation systems to determine their efficacy.

Once the initial evaluation is complete, the team at TERPconsulting conducts practical tests in controlled environments to simulate fire scenarios. Smoke generators are used to release dense smoke, mimicking a real fire situation. TERPconsulting’s smoke control specialists then observe and measure the behavior of smoke within the building, ensuring that it follows the intended paths and does not accumulate in critical areas such as stairwells or evacuation routes.

Throughout TERPconsulting’s system testing process, data is collected using specialized equipment such as airflow meters, temperature sensors, and pressure gauges. The team at TERPconsulting meticulously analyzes the data to assess the performance of smoke control systems and identify any areas that require improvement or adjustment.

How are exhaust systems involved in smoke control testing?

Exhaust systems are a crucial component of smoke control systems in buildings, particularly regarding fire safety design. Exhaust systems are mechanical systems designed to remove smoke and heat from the building in the event of a fire, helping to maintain tenable conditions for occupants and facilitate safe evacuation. They work with other elements of the smoke control system, such as smoke barriers, pressurization systems, and ventilation, to create a safe environment for occupants.

The exhaust method refers to the specific strategy of effectively removing smoke and hot gases from the building during a fire. Depending on the building’s design, occupancy, and fire safety objectives, TERPconsulting recommends common exhaust methods of stairwell pressurization, zone exhaust, smoke control fans, and smoke curtains, as defined below:

  • Stairwell Pressurization: This method involves pressurizing stairwells to prevent smoke from entering and to maintain them as safe evacuation routes. Smoke is exhausted from the stairwells to maintain a pressure differential that keeps smoke out.
  • Zone Exhaust: In buildings with multiple smoke control zones, each zone may have its dedicated exhaust system. This allows for targeted smoke removal and prevents the spread of smoke from one zone to another.
  • Smoke Control Fans: Smoke control fans may be used to control and direct the movement of smoke within the building. They can assist in creating airflow patterns that guide smoke toward exhaust points.
  • Smoke Curtains: In some cases, smoke curtains or barriers may be used to partition areas and direct smoke toward exhaust points. Once smoke is concentrated in a specific area, it can be efficiently removed through exhaust systems.

Do the experts at TERPconsulting assess firefighter smoke control panels during smoke control testing?

Whether it’s firefighter smoke control panels or exhaust systems, the experts at TERPconsulting can nimbly assess the intricate interplay of various elements during smoke control testing. One crucial aspect of smoke control testing is the assessment of firefighter smoke control panels, which serve as the nerve center for managing smoke control strategies during a fire emergency.

Within the firefighter smoke control panels, the integration with the fire alarm system takes center stage. TERPconsulting’s system testing involves evaluating the seamless communication between these two critical components. When a fire alarm system is triggered, it should trigger the appropriate smoke control responses, initiating a cascade of actions to safeguard building occupants.

Smoke barriers and pressure differentials are central to these responses. As part of the pressurization method, they help contain and channel smoke away from evacuation routes, creating safe egress paths. TERPconsulting’s assessment of these barriers, along with the door opening force required to traverse them, is integral to the testing process. Ensuring doors can be opened easily, especially in high-pressure differential scenarios, is vital for occupant safety.

The fire command center is where decisions about smoke control are made. When the experienced team at TERPconsulting conducts smoke control testing, the command center’s functionality and ability to coordinate actions across different smoke control zones are scrutinized. Each smoke control zone may have unique requirements and exhaust systems, necessitating a thorough evaluation of the exhaust system method’s effectiveness in clearing smoke from specific areas.

Should existing buildings undergo smoke control system testing?

TERPconsulting’s smoke control testing services are not limited to new construction but apply to existing buildings undergoing renovations or modifications. Testing is conducted to ensure that any changes made to the building do not compromise the overall fire safety and smoke control measures as required by IBC 909. If your jurisdiction is located in California, requirements of the California Building Code (CBC) must be followed, and a California-licensed Deputy Smoke Control Inspector must perform required testing.

By adhering to strict smoke control testing procedures, the team of certified fire safety experts at TERPconsulting ensures that buildings are equipped with effective and reliable systems to safeguard occupants and property during fire emergencies.