Minimising Risk in the Workplace Using AOV’s
What is an AOV?
AOV’s (Automatic Opening Vents) are designed to exhaust the smoke and heat produced by fires. The system works by channelling the smoke away from common area’s and escape routes in the building. This allows time for any occupants to safely evacuate, without relying solely on emergency services to arrive.
Not only do employees get a safer route but it also makes it a lot easier for the first responders to search for any remaining occupants and lead them out of the building whilst minimising the risks of inhaled smoke. Buying time in these emergency situations is critical to saving lives and reducing injuries.
Why is smoke ventilation important?
Commonly referred to as SHEV’s, Smoke and Heat Evacuation Vents add a considerable amount of fire safety to buildings by aiding occupants and fire fighters alike. Everyone knows that fire can be devastating and dangerous, but what many fail to realize is that smoke is deadlier. Looking at the latest statistics (updated 20 November 2018) from UK Government, most casualties are caused by gas, smoke or toxic fumes; leading to asphyxiation.
Although the two are sometimes confused, AOV’s are SHEV’s but not all SHEV’s are AOV’s. An AOV is the safest and most advanced type of smoke vent there is. AOV’s are automatically triggered by heat or smoke detectors therefore the system does not need to rely on human intervention; making them a perfect solution for most commercial buildings. Afterall, it’s unlikely that a member of staff will want to go out of their way in the event of a fire; and rightfully so.
Fire safety is extremely important, especially in working environments where there is multiple occupancy throughout the day as improper solutions could put many lives at risk. Depending on the size of the company there could be anything from 5 to 500 people in a building at one given time. Smoke ventilation is particularly critical in buildings where only one escape route is possible/present because this can lead to employees who are trapped with no means of escape.
Improving stairwells, corridors and exits is the upmost priority of fire safety in large buildings in order to buy time for anyone present. If the only escape route is filled with smoke this can have devastating effect. Even to those who have managed to escape, the consequences of smoke can still lead to further damage down the line, both physically and mentally.
Breathing in smoke can cause a lot of health issues such as irritation or damage to the skin and lungs, if not fatalities. The smoke not only lowers the amount of oxygen that can be inhaled but it also contains deadly fumes like carbon monoxide. Forgetting about the health problems to each individual, if left too long, smoke and hot air can combine in buildings and has been known to cause explosions.
AOV’s reduce, if not eliminate all of the above issues by allowing the fumes to escape quickly and efficiently. This is essential for any business because it will not only save the lives of employees which is most important but it will also help to prevent as much damage from the fire spreading or potentially exploding or in rare cases the building collapsing. In order to keep commercial buildings safe, landlords and employers must know that the AOV system is compliant and adheres to the latest fire safety regulations.
How to choose a reliable AOV system
For smoke and heat exhaust vents (SHEV’s) the standard is CE EN 12101-2, so you should always confirm that any products supplied to your project possess the correct certificate of conformity for the role in which they will be used.
Xtralite Rooflights is a leading UK manufacturer that offer a wide range of AOV’s suitable for all applications and building types; from small residential buildings to large commercial ones.
Manyof the rooflights available are not only certified to CE EN 12101-2 but they also offer weather proof properties and a low-maintenance thermoplastic design, far exceeding the Building Regulations (Part L) on Gov UK.
With over 25 years of experience in the industry, Xtralite have developed a deep understanding of the needs and requirements of fire safety in both residential and commercial buildings. Due to experience of the industry, the specialist team are capable of offering a comprehensive consulting and design process to look at each building’s specific requirements in order to provide the best solution. Free-site surveys are just part of their service and if a bespoke solution is essential this can be manufactured to order.
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