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Testing timesSeptember 2006

As published in MEP Middle East October 2006

Emergency smoke fans - A question of performance.

Today smoke and heat ventilation systems have become a vital part of fire protection strategies. Since a high percentage of all fire victims are killed primarily by smoke poisoning as smoke and heat spread faster than the fire itself, the smoke control systems play a critical role in saving lives.

The Dubai project

With many of the residential and commercial buildings in Dubai being multi storey structures, it is vital that appropriate smoke control systems are installed to ensure the safety of people and the integrity of buildings in the event of a fire.

And The Dubai Mall is no exception. With a 5 million square feet of total retail space, 15,000 parking spaces, and 35 million visitors expected in the first year, fire protection and safety is a paramount.

The Mall, which construction started in 2004 for completion in 2008, is only one part of an even bigger development - Burj Dubai: a high-class urban centre in Downtown Dubai that comprises of 12 million square feet of total space including the world's tallest tower.

Nuaire builds fans for the Dubai Mall

Considering the sheer size of the whole project and expected number of visitors it is no surprise that, as part of smoke control measures, almost 500 axial flow fans are being supplied by the UK manufacturer Nuaire on the first phase, of which over 200 are of a high temperature design. Thirty of those fans are intended for application in the underground carpark alone.

The fans that have been custom built by Nuaire will have a dual-purpose application: to reduce the risks in case of fire by extracting smoke and heat from the space, and for efficient and quiet day to day ventilation. Using motors fitted with anti-condensation features, power factor correction capacitors and thermal protection devices, this type of fan is suitable for the high ambient temperature and humidity conditions found throughout the Middle East and Asia.

A question of performance

Since this type of emergency products deals with life-safety issues, it is always in the interest of all project parties to ensure that the products comply with the current standard and are fit for purpose. There is only one way to ensure that: Test it.

The Nuaire fan ranges have recently been independently tested and certified in accordance with the latest EN12101-3 standard, by BSRIA in the UK. BSRIA is the only body notified by the UK government to carry out type tests of these safety critical products in its purpose built test facility.

In order to assist Nuaire to gain range certification, BSRIA have type-tested in excess of 30 fans, producing reports and test certificates to cover axial fans at 300 and 400 degrees C, centrifugals at 400 degrees C and car park fans at 300 degrees C - for guaranteed emergency operation for 2 hours.

To approve the range, certain specific fans were selected according to requirements of the annex A of the EN12101-3. These included the most highly stressed impeller and the largest and smallest motor frame sizes used in each range.

During testing, each fan was switched off 15 minutes after the required temperature has been reached, for the duration of 2 minutes, and had to restart again, to continue for the full test period. This simulated the switching to emergency power in case of fire.

Colin Biggs, Technical Director of Nuaire, says: "Working with BSRIA has proved to be an efficient means of gaining compliance. We were able to witness the testing and be part of the team with BSRIA experts, also benefiting from their experience in the extensive administration and documentation phases of the project. Independent testing reinforces our confidence in our product, and provides our client base with ongoing re-assurance that the installed systems will function as intended".

Independent testing and certification

Independent product testing can make a major difference to the success of construction projects. Whether it is about ensuring appropriate smoke control systems, suitable cooling requirements or effective ventilation, product testing will provide reliable performance data and validate that equipment is fit for use thus minimising risks on projects.

Furthermore, independent certification by a third-party goes beyond testing. In the case of these emergency products, the compliance requires not only type testing of representative examples from a manufacturer s range but also an audited Factory Production Control (FPC) system, to ensure that the manufactured quality is consistent. Currently in Europe it is legally mandatory for these products sold in the EU to carry CE Mark. The CE mark may only be affixed after successful completion of testing, auditing of factory production control and the issue of a certificate by accredited independent authority.

The industry worldwide has much to gain from accepting and specifying powered smoke and heat extract products that have been independently tested and certified to EN12101-3. Whilst not a requirement for construction products outside the EU, the testing to this standard provides vital evidence that products will perform in emergency as intended: to protect the spread of fire and smoke and to prevent loss of lives and property.

"There is an increased demand from outside the EU for these life-safety products that are independently tested and certified by a Notified Body " says Mark Roper, Senior Engineer in charge of high temperature fan testing at BSRIA. "This gives buyers and specifiers the reassurance that the product has successfully passed the rigorous test conditions after being subjected to temperatures as high as 400oC for two hours, and that products are fit for purpose."

To find out more, contact:

BSRIA Test & MicroClimate
Tel: +44 (0)1344 465600
or email: