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APPENDIX D - DUCTWORK SYSTEMS AND FIRE HAZARDS


D.l Fire and smoke containmentlhazards

are
factors which influence the design and installation
of ductwork systems.
Information. concerning fire protection systems is
laid down in BS 5588, Fire Precautions in the
design. and construction of Building Part 9 (1989)
Code of Practice for Ventilation and Air Conditioning Ductwork and tested in accordance with
BS 476Part 20(1987) and BS 476 Part 22 (1987)
forFire and Smoke Dampers and British Standard
476 Part 24 (1987) - ISO 6944 - (1985) for Fire
Rated Ductwork.
D.2 Building Regulations in the Umted Kingdom
require that new buildings be divided into fire
compartments in. order that the spread of smoke
and fire in the building is inhibited, and to stop the
spread of smoke and fire from one compartment
to another, for given periods of time as specified
by the Building Regulations 1991 (Approved
Document B).
D.2.1 There are three methods of fire protection,
related to ductwork systems as given in BS 5~88
Part 9 (1989).
Method 1 - Protection using Fire Dampers
The fire is isolated in the compartment of origin
by the automatic or manual actuation of closures
within the system. Fire dampers should, therefore.
be sited at the point of penetration of a
compartment .wall or floor, or at the point of
penetration of the enclosure of a protected escape
route.
Fire dampers should be framed in such a way as to
allow for thermal. expansion in the event of fire,
and the design must provide for the protection of
any packing material included.
Standard types of fire dampers and frames are
described in Section 22 of this specification.
For further information refer to the impending
HVCA publication DWfTM3, 'Guide to Good
Practice for the Design for the Installation of Fire
and Smoke Dampers'.
Method 2 - Protection using Fire Resisting
Enclosures
Where a building services shaft is provided
through which the ventilation ductwork passes
and if the shaft is constructed to the highest standard of fire resistance of the structure which it
penetrates, it forms a compartment known as a
protected shaft. This allows a complicated multiplicity of services to be transferred together
through a shaft transversing a number of compartments and reaching remote parts of the building,
without requiring further internal divisions along
its length ..The provision of fire dampers is then
required only at points where the ventilation duct
leaves the confines of the protected shaft.
However, if there "isonly one ventilation duct and
there are no other services within the protected
shaft, between the fire compartment and the outside of the building, no fire dampers will be
required.

Method 3.- Protection using Fire Resisting


Ductwork
The ductwork itself forms a protected shaft. The
fire resistance may be achieved by the ductwork
material itself or through the application of a protective material provided that the ductwork has
been tested and/or assessed to BS476 Part 24 with
a fire resistance, when tested from either side that
should not be less than the fire resistance required
for the elements of construction in the area
through which it passes. It should also be noted
that the fire resisting ductwork must be supported
with suitably sized and designed hangers, which
reflect the reduction in tensile strength of steel in
a fire condition .i.e:
Fire resisting ductwork rated at 60 minutes
(945C), reduces the tensile strength from 430
Nzrnm' to 15 Nzrnm'.
Fire resisting ductwork rated at 120 minutes
(1,049C) tensile strength reduced to -10 Nzmm-,
Fire resisting ductwork rated at 240 minutes
(1,153C) tensilestrength reduced to 6 Nzmm'.
Where the fire resisting ductwork passes through
a fire compartment wall or floor. a penetration
seal must be provided which has been tested
and/or assessed with the ductwork to BS476 Part
24, to the same fire rating as the compartment
wall through which the fire resisting ductwork
passes. It should also be noted that where the fire
resisting ductwork passes through the fire compartment wall or floor, the ductwork itself must be
stiffened to prevent deformation of the duct in a
fire to:
a) maintain the cross-sectional area of the duct
b) ensure .that the fire rated penetration seal
around the duct is not compromised.
D.2.2 - Main areas within building where
Ductworkshould be fire protected
The following notes are for guidance only, and it
should be noted that authority rests with the
Building Control Officer and/or the Fire Officer
responsible for the building. Reference on the
folowing systems should also be made to the current Building Regulations.
a. Smoke Extract Systems:
If the ductwork incorporated in a smoke
extract system is wholly contained within the
fire compartment, it must be capable of resisting the anticipated temperatures generated
through the development of a fire. BS 476
Part 24 also requires ductwork, which is
intended as a smoke extract, must retain at
least 75% of its cross-sectional area within the
fire compartment. If the ductwork penetrates a
fire resisting barrier, it must alsobe capable of
providing the same period of fire resistance.
b. Escape Routes covering Stairways, Lobbies and Corridors
All escape routes must be designed so ~at. the
building occupants can evacuate the building

safely in. the case of fire. Ductwork which


passes through a protected escape route must
have a fire resistance at least equal to the fire
compartment
through which the ductwork
passes, either by the use of fire dampers or
fire resisting ductwork.
c.

Non Domestic Kitchen Extract Systems


Where there is no immediate discharge to
atmosphere,
i.e. the ductwork
passes to
atmosphere via another fire compartment, fire
resistant ductwork must be used. Kitchen
extract ductwork presents a particular hazard
as combustible
deposits such as grease are
likely to accumulate
on internal surfaces,
therefore, all internal surfaces of the ductwork
must be smooth. A fire in an adjacent compartment, through which the ductwork passes,
could lead to ignition of the grease deposits,
which may. continue. through the. ductwork
system, possibly prejudicing the safety of the
kitchen occupants. For this reason consideration must be given to the stability, integrity
and insulation performance
of the kitchen
extract duct which should be specificallytested
to BS 476 Part 24 for a kitchen extract rating.

Access doors for cleaning must be provided at distances not exceeding 3 metres.

Fire dampers must not be used.


~ Use of volume control dampers and turn-

ing vanes are not recommended.


Further information on kitchen extract systems
will be found in the HVCA publication DW1171
Specification for Kitchen Ventilation Systems.
d. Enclosed Car Parks - which are
mechanically ventilated
Car Parks must have separate and independent. extract systems, because of the polluted
nature of the extract air. Due to the fire risk
associated with car parks, these systems
should be treated as smoke extract systems
and therefore maintain a minimum of 75%
cross-sectional area under fire conditions in
accordance with BS 476 Part 24. Fire dampers
must not be installed in extract ductwork serving car parks.
i/

e. Basements - Ductwork from Basements


must be Fire Rated
If basements are compartmented, each separate compartment must have a separate outlet
and have access to ventilation without having
to gain access (i.e. open a door to another

compartment). Basements with natural ventilation should have permanent openings, .not
less than 2.5% of the floor area and
be arranged to provide a through draft with
separate fire ducts for ea~h compartment.
f. Pressurisation Systems
Pressurisation is a method of restricting the
penetration of smoke into certain critical areas
of a building by maintaining theair at higher
pressures than those in adjacent areas. It
applies particularly to protect stairways, lobbies, corridors and fire fighting shafts serving
deep basements as smoke penetration to these
areas would inhibit escape.
As the air supply creating the pressurisation
must be maintained for the duration of a fire,
fire dampers cannot be used within the ductwork to prevent the spread of fire. Any ductwork penetrating fire resisting barriers must
be capable of providing the same period of
fire resistance.
g. Hazardous Areas
There are other areas within the building
where the Building Control Officer or the Fire
Officer could state a requirement for fire
resisting ductwork, ego areas of high risk,
Boiler Houses, Plantrooms, Transformer
Rooms etc.
D.2.3 Cautionary note to all Ductwork
Designers! Manufacturers:
Ductwork constructed to DW/144 Standard has
no tested fire resistance. General purpose ventilation/air conditioning ductwork and its ancillary
items do not have a fire rating and cannot be either
utilised as or converted into a fire rated ductwork
system unless the construction materials of the
whole system including supports and penetrationseals are proven by test and assessment in accordance with BS 476 Part 24.
In the case where galvanised sheet steel ductwork
is clad by the application of a protective material,
the ductwork construction must be as type tested
and comply with the protective material manufacturers recommendations, ego gauge of ductwork,
frequency of stiffeners and non-use of low melting point fasteners or rivets. Sealants, gaskets and
flexible joints should be as tested and certificated
in accordance with BS 476 Part 24 and comply
with the manufacturers recommendations.
Careful consideration must also be given to the
maximum certificated size tested to BS 476 Part
24 and the manufacturers recommendations
should always be followed.

This appendix incorporates information given in the A.S.EP publication 'Fire Rated and Smoke Outlet
Ductw?rk: An ~d~stry Guide to Design and Installation' available from Association for Specialist Fire
Protection, ASSOCIatIonHouse, 235 Ash Road, Aldershot, Hampshire GU12 4DD (Telephone: 01252 21322
Fax: 01252 333901)
.