Automatic Opening Vents or AOV’s play an essential role in fire safety and prevention for a wide range of property types including offices, HMO’s, flats, apartments and commercial buildings.
In this article, we will discuss and explain what exactly AOV’s are, how AOV systems work and the advantages of installing them within commercial properties.
What is an Automatic Opening Vent?
AOV’s are controlled systems that are designed to automatically open windows, doors and vents in the event of a fire. This works to quickly and effectively extract and clear smoke, toxins and harmful gases from critical areas and escape routes, improving visibility and preserving oxygen so that occupants can safely evacuate.
Business owners, property managers, landlords and those responsible for commercial premises are required by law to provide clear and safe exit if a fire occurs and AOV’s are an efficient way to ensure this happens.
How Do Automatic Opening Vent Systems Work?
There are different types of AOV systems and the overall design and function will depend on the size, type, layout and complexity of the building. Most of them however work in similar ways which involves being coupled with an alarm such as a smoke detector, so that if a fire breaks out, the AOV system is triggered and opens the windows, actuators or vents automatically.
What are the Benefits of AOV Systems for Commercial Properties?
When a fire starts it can spread rapidly throughout a building in a matter of minutes, filling the building with dense smoke, fumes and toxins, making it difficult for those onside to see, breath or navigate their way to safety. AOV’s work to help protect your premises, its contents and those inside. Here are some of the many advantages of installing an AOV system in your commercial property.
- Smoke Clearance
The biggest threat to life in the event of a fire is not the fire itself, but the smoke. Not only can the smoke make it near impossible to see and navigate your way safely to the exit, but smoke inhalation can cause serious harm and lead to occupants becoming overwhelmed and falling unconscious.
An AOV system works to automatically open windows and vents so that smoke, heat and fumes flow out of the building and are drawn away from exit routes. This help to clear the smoke from exit routes and improves visibility and allows in fresh, breathable air so that occupants can exit the property quickly and safely, reducing the risk of smoke inhalation, injuries and fatalities.
Building regulations BS 9991:2011 and BS7346-8 state that for commercial dwellings, automatic smoke vents should be included in the overall fire strategy. Because they are a required safety measure, it is important that as the person responsible you ensure that there is a sufficient AOV system in place so that your property is safe and compliant.
- Emergency Responders
When smoke is effectively ventilated during a fire, it can make all the difference for the emergency services because;
- It works to keep communal areas and exit routes clear of smoke
- Improves visibility and conditions which means that occupants are much more likely to be able to evacuate safely without help, so there are fewer people to rescue
- Makes it easier to enter and find their way round the property
- Reduces the time it takes to locate and put out the fire
- The building is safer for rescue and recovery
- Reduced Damage
Fire and smoke can be devastating, destroying everything in its path and resulting in the loss of property, assets, equipment, stock, personal belongings and inventory. With AOV’s in place, the worst of the damage can often be controlled and greatly reduced so that the business can quickly get back on their feet.
- Flashover Prevention
When a fire reaches a critical temperature and nearby combustible materials ignite, a flashover can occur which dangerously intensifies heat and smoke, leading to a fire that is larger and harder to control.
AOVs restrict the airflow to the fire, reducing smoke and heat build-up and containing the area which works to prevent and delay flashovers.