Ductwork and fire resistance: legal responsibilities

In the wake of high profile fire related tragedies like Grenfell Tower, the spotlight is turning firmly onto fire safety in our commercial and public buildings. But do you know your responsibilities as regards fire resistance and ductwork?

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A legal obligation

Under sections 5.3 and 5.4 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, it is now a legal obligation to prove that the materials used in the installation of a HVAC system and the contractor doing the installation are competent in regards to fire resistance. In other words, the materials must be fit for the job and the contractor must use adequate fire resistant ductwork supplies.

Fire resistance under the spotlight

Fire kills an estimated 300 people a year and causes more than £1 billion of damage to property. But is your fire resistant ductwork fit for purpose? There are four main types of ducting with different performance requirements, and it pays to know them if you don’t want to be found legally liable in the event of a fire.

Ventilation fire ductwork either supplies or extracts and must be adequately fire-rated where it passes into an escape route. This type of ductwork should be tested for Type A fire indoors and Type B fire outdoors. Smoke Extract fire ductwork must be tested to ensure the cross sectional area does not diminish by more than 25% and there must be at least 500mm of separation between this type of duct and any combustible materials.

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Non-domestic kitchen extraction fire ductwork or grease ducting must also be tested for type A (indoors) and type B (outdoors) fires to prevent flammable grease catching light or starting a fire through radiant heat. Pressurisation ductwork is used to minimise the penetration of smoke into any critical areas by using higher air pressure in those sections of pipe and this must be maintained for the duration of the fire. These types of ductwork supplies are available from suppliers like https://www.dustspares.co.uk/.

Know your responsibilities

It’s important you know the way fire-resistant ductwork operates within your building, so you can remain legally compliant. Ask your installer to explain the fire-resistant capabilities of the system to you, to ensure that the right ductwork is being used for the right purposes and that it has been tested to the appropriate standards.

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