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CROSS Safety Report

Risk of fire spread through service ducts

Report ID: 707 Published: 1 January 2018 Region: CROSS-UK

This report is over 2 years old

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Overview

A reporter highlights that the risk of spread of smoke, hot gases and flames due to deficiencies in service ducts is an important subject that needs detailed investigation.

Key Learning Outcomes

For the construction team:

  • Be aware that passive fire protection components should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications

  • Consider introducing a quality assurance process that covers the correct use and installation of fire protection products and components

For building owners and managers:

  • Be aware of the buildings design fire strategy and ensure protection facilities are properly maintained

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From their experience of working on high-rise residential blocks some years ago, a reporter says there is a risk of fire spread through service ducts. The risk of spread of smoke, hot gases and flames due to deficiencies in the design and as-built condition of service ducts is an important subject that needs detailed investigation.

The reporter believes that there is a reasonable possibility that a number of high-rise residential blocks will have such deficiencies. They consider that it would be remiss not to pass their concerns onto relevant authorities at this time.

Expert Panel Comments

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Expert Panels comment on the reports we receive. They use their experience to help you understand what can be learned from the reports. If you would like to know more, please visit the CROSS-UK Expert Panels page.

This is similar to  report 706 which discussed the widespread fire safety failings in residential blocks, and was received at the same time showing the level of concern about fire safety amongst readers. Service ducts must be constructed to maintain the integrity of fire compartments which they pass through.

The importance of fire stops

In some cases, there is a need to penetrate the fire protection to install or renew cables, or to alter pipework or ducts. This may happen many times throughout the life of the building, and the contractors may not understand the need to fire stop the holes they have created. Occupants are more likely to be killed by smoke than by fire, so precautions against smoke generation and smoke dispersal are as important as protection against heat.

Occupants are more likely to be killed by smoke than by fire, so precautions against smoke generation and smoke dispersal are as important as protection against heat

The fire in MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas (1980) which killed 85, and the fire in Düsseldorf Airport (1996) which killed 17, are examples of smoke spreading via ducts and shafts. This is an important aspect of protecting life in buildings and demands the full attention of those involved.

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