Fire Engineering Associates and Interactive Special Projects were at the centre of a top level industry seminar that looked at future improvements in fire safety for high rise housing.

Jim Wild – a chartered engineer with FEA – was a keynote speaker addressing delegates from the social housing, local authority, housing association and government sectors.

The half day series of four London seminars, at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall, examined common causes of fire spreading in high-rise housing and looked at fire risk assessment, communal ventilation systems, fire safety modifications and retro-fitting pressurisation systems.

“The need for reliable smoke control systems in high rise residential buildings is beyond argument,” said Jim. “The number of fires in residential blocks confirm this and underline the need to help occupants get out while ensuring firefighters can get in.

“Natural methods can protect stairs only – leaving corridors and lobbies full of hot smoke. But powered methods are infinitely more reliable because they are unaffected by adverse wind and stack effects.

“A simple pressurisation system like Smoke Angel – which is easy to fit in existing buildings – will protect stairs at all times and can, with careful design, be extended to protect corridors and lobbies too.”

Jim Wild – C. Eng F.I Mech. E – spent most of his adult working life with Flakt Woods – which co-sponsored the IoD event – latterly as product manager for the development and application of fans in the fire safety industry.

He retired in 2000 and is now a fan engineering consultant specialising in fire smoke control systems for Fire Engineering Associates – which has designed and installed more than 100 pressurised systems over the last decade.

“We share Jim’s passionate commitment to pressurisation,” says FEA managing director Dave Fenlon.

“When fires break out people in high-rise residential and commercial office blocks have a right to expect a clear exit route that isn’t blocked by smoke – and the accepted best way to achieve this is by pressurisation.

“Not just for new build. In older buildings, too, even adding a simplified pressurisation or powered extraction system will measurably improve safety.

“Surely, when major refurbishments are planned for residential blocks, a wider-ranging fire risk assessment, including better smoke control systems, could be carried out for a relatively small cost, instead of spending on cosmetics like repairing and painting walls.”

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