The Importance of Fire Rated Ductwork

March 5, 2018
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Fire-rated ductwork created by Airmatic Ltd.

At the heart of a building’s infrastructure is the intricate web of ductwork that allows the movement of air. Invisible to most, ductwork is a key element to many work environments; from hospitals to food factories.

Which is why this vital element of so many important buildings should be fire resistant. During times of fire, it can help to remove smoke, making the air safer for those trying to escape, and it can even help to prevent the fire from spreading further. Fire-rated ductwork should be a necessity in any workspace, for a number of reasons:

Overlooked, But Important

For many, the fire rating of their ductwork is far from the front of their minds. However, should the worst come to pass the right ductwork can change the course of a fire spreading through your building. Ductwork is often installed for the comfort and health of workers on a daily basis. But, it cannot be stressed how important it is to ensure this ductwork is also fire resistant and has appropriate fire dampers.

Many avoid this due to the added cost, but these are features which genuinely save lives. Without this, rapid and uncontrollable spreading of smoke could potentially overwhelm a building before people are able to escape in time.

Fire Safety

Fire-rated ductwork is not only capable of protecting those inside of a building during a potential fire, but the building itself. Competent ductwork and dampers can help to ensure the integrity of the structure remains – helping to curtail some of the more destructive results that fires can produce.

The system of dampers can be connected to the fire alarm system. When it is triggered this will ensure that compartment walls are closed to prevent the passing of smoke whilst the alarm is activated. Thermal links can also be used, forcing these compartments to close when a certain temperature is reached.

Fire-rated ductwork has a few key responsibilities during a fire:

  1. Smoke extraction during the course of a potential fire.
  2. Smoke extraction from kitchens in a commercial setting (hotel kitchens, restaurants, etc.).
  3. Ductwork must be fireproof if passing through a means of escape (to protect those escaping).

British Fire-Resistant Ductwork Standards

There are three key elements that ductwork must have in order to pass the British standard for fire resistance. These are stability, integrity and insulation. This means that the ductwork will not collapse during the event of a fire, nor be penetrated by flames, smoke or sparks, nor will it allow the radiative spread of fire.

Maintenance must also be performed regularly in order to ensure that these elements remain intact over the course of the ductworks life. This means during work carried out, no matter how minor, the integrity of the ductwork must be kept.

 

Overall, the fire-resistance of your ductwork can be the difference between keeping fire damage to a minimum and experiencing a major incident. That is why ensuring you have fire-rated ductwork in place in your building is vital, as well as the appropriate fire safety checks and routine.