Fire safety in any building is of the utmost importance and for those who own, manage, or are responsible for a commercial or multi-occupancy property, it is crucial that you implement the legal requirements in order to ensure that the premises are compliant, and its occupants are safe.
Here we have created an informative, straightforward guide to stairwell AOV systems that helps to answer some of the most commonly asked questions and give you a better understanding of what they are, how they work, and where they are needed.
What is a Stairwell AOV System?
A stairwell AOV is an automatic opening vent that is installed at the highest point of an evacuation stairwell and provides at least 1.0m2 of free area when open.
They can take a number of forms including;
- Roof Hatches
- Aluminium Flat Roof Louvres
- Skylight Windows
- Vertical/Façade Louvres
- Casement Windows
What is the Purpose of a Stairwell AOV System?
An AOV system involves a sensor or alarm such as a smoke detector that triggers the vents or windows to immediately open when they detect smoke.
Commonly used in the stairwells of multi-level buildings, stairwell AOVs are designed to open in the event of a fire and provide ventilation of smoke from escape routes, including the staircases and communal areas leading off them such as the lobbies and hallways.
These stairwell AOVs serve a number of purposes including;
- The removal of smoke, fumes, and toxins from vital exit routes
- Clearing the smoke makes it much quicker, easier, and safer for occupants to evacuate
- Provides replacement air and makes it easier for occupants to breathe
- Allows for the safe evacuation of large volumes of people
- Makes it easier for firefighters to enter the property and tackle the fire
Where are Stairwell AOV Systems Used?
These systems are commonly used in a wide variety of property types including residential, commercial, and industrial premises, such as;
Does My Building Need a Stairwell AOV System?
AOVs help to form an effective smoke ventilation system which is a required safety measure for multi-storey commercial and residential buildings. In order to comply with the latest building regulations, set out in BS7346 and BS5588, every communal stairwell is required to have an AOV to extract smoke in the event of a fire.
Approved Document B – Fire Safety sets out how ventilation is to be provided for specific buildings, with the method of ventilation varying depending on things such as the type of building, its layout, and number of occupants. This Document also focuses on the prevention of smoke accumulation within buildings, setting out requirements for a means of escape during a fire such as a stairwell AOV.
It is important to understand the fire safety regulations and legislation that applies to your property so that you can ensure that it is safe and compliant.