04 November 2018

Are Poorly Maintained Smoke Extract Fans a Ticking Time Bomb?

By Elta Fans

04 November 2018

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When it comes to ventilation systems in the building services sector, the fact that many fans can be left to do a job with little to no intervention can be a facilities manager’s dream. But complacency really can be dangerous – especially when it comes to smoke extract fans.

The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ nature of emergency smoke extract fans means many are going years without being serviced. While I hate to instigate the pressing of the panic button, this worrying trend could have catastrophic consequences.

Some building owners carry the misplaced assumption that they won’t encounter a fire, which of course is a stance we only see the consequences of once it’s too late.

Arguably the problem stems from the legislation in place. Although BS EN 12101-3 ensures emergency smoke extract fans are rigorously tested during manufacture and pre-sales, it is much less clear what needs to happen once these products are installed. In actual fact, there is no mandatory requirement for these fans to be serviced.

When it comes to frequently-used, well-populated commercial buildings such as supermarkets and shopping centres, smoke extract fans are vital in the event of a fire. Not only do they help occupants to get out, they also assist the fire service in getting into the building. After all, ultimately, these fans are there to protect lives.


What should be done?

After 20,000 hours or five years of service, the fans bearings should be changed by the approved manufacturer of the equipment. If there is a fire and the fan hasn’t been used regularly, hasn’t been serviced, and has bearings which are in poor condition, there is every chance it will fail just when it is needed most.

What we really need is a mandatory servicing requirement to ensure that legally, building owners and facilities managers are not allowed to forget to have these critical appliances checked on a regular basis.

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