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The progressive development of motorization has led to inadequate parking places in urban areas and their outskirts. At the same time, the emergency of new public utilities and residential buildings demands the development of new parking spaces. As a result, investors are creating one or multi-store closed garage facilities to solve the issue of limited development space and the high cost of building plots. 

These new parking spaces must be provided with adequate & effective ventilation that acts both as a residential and fire ventilation system. According to research, most fire deaths in enclosed facilities are caused by smoke inhalation, and not by burns. Moreover, smoke obstructs light in the fire escape routes and limits the visibility of the occupants. 

Therefore, it’s important to install a smoke extraction system in enclosed vehicular facilities to help occupants avoid smoke when evacuating the building in the event of a fire. In addition, a garage ventilation system design will maintain the proper indoor air quality in the facility and protect the rescue teams during a fire. 

The Purpose of Smoke Extraction systems in enclosed garage facilities 

Fire ventilation systems are installed in enclosed vehicular facilities to separate hot combustion products and smoke-free zones in firefighting areas. More importantly, these systems lower the temperature and bring outdoor air into the facility in the event of a fire accident. However, they can also be used to supply air into the garage space under normal building operating operations. 

Smoke extraction systems usually have a fire resistance of 60 – 120 minutes, depending on the type of product. The basic purpose of using these systems in enclosed garages is to allow effective operation for rescue teams, provide appropriate evacuation conditions and protect building structures. In addition, ventilation systems for garage facilities protect escape routes against the smoke, by preventing the spread of smoke to the other parts of the garage and using appropriate smoke suppressors in the fire zone. 

How to extract smoke from enclosed garage facilities 

There are various ways of reducing hazards caused by fire gases and smoke in enclosed parking garages. This includes; 

  •  Use fire-resistance and airtight physical barriers including gates, doors, and other openings to provide automatic closing of the opening in the event of a fire. 
  • Smoke extraction from the fire point to the withdrawal point
  • Smoke control by providing differential pressure (overpressure) in protected areas 
  • Creating a stable system to separate the smoke late from smoke-free zones 

Choosing how to remove hazards from enclosed parking garages will strictly depend on the conditions that must be maintained during the rescue and evacuation operation. For spaces with a floor-to-ceiling height of up to 1.8m, it’s assumed that the minimum visibility should be up to 10m without smoke, while the temperature shouldn’t exceed 60 deg C. In comparison, the temperature for garages that are higher than 2.5m from the floor shouldn’t exceed 200 deg C. 

In addition, a smoke extraction system should ensure that the rescue crew has a safe escape route, 15 minutes after the fire outbreak at a distance of about 10 m from the fire source. More notably, it’s acceptable to carry out firefighting in the facility for about 30 minutes at a temperature not exceeding 100 deg C because of the specialist firefighter’s equipment. 

Basic Legal Requirements from Smoke Extraction/ Removal from Parking Garages 

Technical and construction regulations require the use of automatic mechanical smoke extraction systems for passenger cars. This applies to garages facilities with more than 10 parking spaces and underground garages with a total floor area exceeding 1500 sq m. 

Secondly, a fire zone area should be divided into closed overground garages with a maximum area of 5000 sq m and an underground area with a maximum area of 2500 sq m. However, the fire zone should be increased by 100% if walls separating 2 parking spaces were constructed with fire resistance class of the min E130 or fixed automatic fire extinguishing systems are used. 

Lastly, each floor of the parking garages with an area of more than 1500 sq m should have at least 2 escape routes. On the same note, the distance to the closest emergency exit should be up to 60 m in open garages and a maximum of 40m in closed garages. However, this distance can be increased by 50% if there is a fixed fire extinguisher or an automatic smoke exhaust system controlled by smoke detectors. 

Conclusion 

To maintain effectiveness within a parking facility’s egress path, the garage ventilation system design must be properly designed, tested, and installed following NFPA 92 Standard. A smoke control system is part of an overall life safety plan intended to ensure the well-being of occupants in the facility. 

To learn more about smoke extraction in parking garages in California, contact InnoDez Design & Engineering. Our HVAC experts will help you come up with the best smoke exhaustion solution for your enclosed garage building! 

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