NFPA 1: Where and how does the Fire Code address smoke control systems? #FireCodefridays

Blog Post created by kristinbigda Employee on Jul 13, 2018

Today’s post is from NFPA staff member, Jennifer Sisco. Jen is a Fire Protection Engineer in the Building and Life Safety Department where she serves as Staff Liaison to multiple NFPA Technical Committees, including Smoke Management systems responsible for the development of NFPA 92. Special thanks to Jen for her contribution!



This Friday Code Friday is all about Smoke Control Systems. Unfortunately, they will not help you when the smoke from your campfire keeps changing in your direction, but they are important building fire protection systems which have unique testing and inspection requirements.

Section 11.8 of the Code addresses smoke control systems. It should be noted that Section 11.8 does not require smoke control systems but mandates that, where such systems are installed for Code compliance, an approved maintenance and testing program must be provided to ensure operational integrity. A smoke control system dedicated to emergency use only will not be subject to dialed use, and therefore, maintenance and testing of smoke control systems are necessary.

Per Section 11.8, newly installed smoke-control systems are required to be inspected by the AHJ and tested in accordance with the criteria established in the approved design documents, NFPA 92, Standard for Smoke Control Systems, and NFPA 204, Standard for Smoke and Heat Venting. NFPA 92 applies to the design, installation, acceptance testing, operation, and ongoing periodic testing of smoke control systems. It incorporates methods for applying engineering calculations and reference models to provide a designer with the tools to develop smoke control system designs. NFPA 204 applies to the design of venting systems for the emergency venting of products of combustion from fires in buildings. NFPA 1, 2018 edition, references NFPA 92 2015 edition and NFPA 204, 2015 edition. The smoke control system’s performance objectives and acceptance criteria should be approved by the AHJ prior to its installation. In some cases, the code mandating the system specifies the performance objectives. For example, in accordance with NFPA 101®, atria require an engineering analysis to demonstrate that smoke will be managed for the time necessary to evacuate the building.

In addition to the initial inspection and testing, smoke control systems are required to be operationally tested on an approved schedule, per NFPA 1, Section; which NFPA 92, Section 8.6 clarifies is annually for dedicated systems, and semi-annually for non-dedicated systems.

Smoke control systems fall into one or two categories, as outlined in NFPA 92, Section 4.2: Smoke Containment Systems or Smoke Management Systems. Smoke containment systems are designed to either contain smoke to a given zone or keep smoke from entering a given zone through the use of differential pressure. Examples of these systems include zoned smoke control, and pressurization systems for stairwells, elevators, vestibules, or smoke refuge areas. Smoke management systems are designed to maintain tenable conditions, set forth in the design, for large-volume spaces through the use of both natural and mechanical ventilation and air movement. Examples of these systems include atrium and mall smoke control systems.

Smoke control systems can include many components including: initiating devices, fans, dampers, vents, controls, smoke barriers, fire stopping, doors, and windows. Each of these components is required to be inspected, tested, and maintained as part of the smoke control system. Therefore, it is important to understand the individual components of a given system. It is the responsibility of the owner/occupant to retain records pertaining to inspection, testing, and maintenance of the systems per NFPA 1, Section 10.2.5.

Smoke control systems are a significant part of life safety, and therefore any time that a system is impaired for more than four hours, the authority having jurisdiction is required to be notified. The AHJ has the authority to require the building to be evacuated or provided with an approved fire watch for the duration of the impairment per NFPA 1, Sections 11.8.4 and 11.8.5.


Thanks, again, to Jen for contributing to this blog. And thanks to all for reading, stay safe!


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