Staged maintenance and refurb for Stratford Shopping Centre
Brakel Airvent specialises in the service and maintenance of smoke control systems. These systems intervene in fire situations to guide hot fumes away from escaping people or approaching fire services, saving lives and protecting assets. They are a requirement of building regulations (e.g. Approved Document B) and their upkeep is mandated by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, with substantial fines already handed out to building owners who fail to comply.
A 330,000 sq. ft. shopping centre is a prime example of a building type that requires a complex and multi-faceted smoke control system in place, with components from alarms to vents, fire curtains to extractor fans all requiring scheduled maintenance and emergency works in the instance of failure.
To save its customers money and to add to their convenience, Brakel Airvent offers a staged refurbishment package that allows for aspects of a system to be upgraded piecemeal as required, rather than the client incurring a significant financial one-off hit. This partnership-style approach is evidenced at Stratford Shopping Centre in east London, which receives over 21 million visitors per year, plus staff and other contractors.
Brakel Airvent has been servicing and maintaining the smoke control systems at this shopping centre for many years. In the instance of this case study, equipment installed consists of natural smoke ventilators, smoke extract fans, smoke curtains and all associated controls systems. The smoke curtains currently on the site are quite old and have become problematic, with obsolescence issues hindering satisfactory remedial works. Replacement or refurbishment was the only viable solution to ensure guaranteed long-term reliability in the north and west boundaries of the site.
Smoke curtains are a type of heat-resistant fabric that are mechanically lowered into place when a fire is detected, compartmentalising hot smoke into areas in line with the fire strategy design. The principal is that if smoke is left to spread, it will cool quickly and lose buoyancy, lowering to head height and becoming a significant breathing and visual impairment hazard. By deliberately keeping smoke hemmed into certain areas with the curtains, the smoke will stay warm longer – working in conjunction with the smoke extract ventilators or fans, a suitable clear layer is maintained to assist with building evacuation and fire fighting procedures.
Fire strategy and cause-and-effect permitting, fixed fire rated glass smoke screens are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to electrically operated retractable smoke curtains. The supply and installation costs of both options are very similar, but curtains require ongoing annual servicing whereas the glass screens do not, hence there is a cost saving to the client.
This refurbishment project will require the extensive experience and expertise that Brakel Airvent has gained over many years of working within live building situations to overcome the additional challenges that come with these types of projects, keeping shoppers safe while not inconveniencing shopkeepers. We have worked with our client to develop a two phase programme to accommodate their specific budget requirements.