- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 16 Apr 2021
Buildings need to be designed to offer an acceptable level of fire safety and minimise the risks from heat and smoke. The primary objective is to reduce to within acceptable limits the potential for death or injury to the occupants of a building and others who may become involved, such as the fire and rescue service, as well as to protect contents and ensure that as much as possible of a building can continue to function after a fire and that it can be repaired. The risk to adjoining properties also needs to be considered, as well as possible environmental pollution.
Smoke is the solid and gaseous product of combustion in the rising plume of heated air. Smoke may contain both burnt and unburned parts of a fuel, as well as any gases given off by the chemical degradation of the fuel.
Very broadly, the larger the fire, the greater the rate of smoke production. All smoke should be considered dangerous and attempts should be made to limit its production and control its movement. The majority of deaths in fire are due to smoke either by the inhalation of toxic gases, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
The heating of the fuel and the emission of volatile content will cause a plume of heated gases to rise and this will cause air to mix (entrainment) at its base as it rises. Some of this air provides the oxygen necessary to support combustion. The rest will mix with the rising plume and become an inseparable element of the smoke.
The appearance of smoke reflects its constituents - it varies from a very light colour to deep, sooty black. The density depends on the amount of unburned particles carried in the air, and very broadly, the denser it is, the more dangerous, because visibility is reduced. Diluting smoke sufficiently to keep escape routes useable can be very difficult, and it is often more straight-forwards to prevent smoke from entering in the first place.
Smoke detectors (also known as smoke alarms) are self-contained safety devices that can be placed around a building to detect smoke that may be associated with a fire and sounding an alarm to alert occupants.
Types of smoke detector include:
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Carbon monoxide.
- Characterising smoke from modern materials and evaluating smoke detectors.
- Cold smoke.
- Developing test methods to assess video flame and video smoke detectors.
- Domestic smoke alarms DG525.
- Fire and smoke damper.
- Grenfell Tower fire.
- Heat alarm.
- Ionisation smoke alarm.
- Multi-sensor alarm.
- Optical smoke alarm.
- Smoke barrier.
- Smoke control door.
- Smoke control.
- Smoke detection in high ceiling spaces.
- Smoke detector.
Featured articles and news
So why not write something?
LETI publishes guidance for energy efficient home retrofits.
Predictions about adequate post-pandemic IAQ in non-domestic buildings.
Government publishes plans to 'build back greener'.
The contentious nature of claims associated with cladding, fire safety and EWS1 forms.
ECA comments on low-carbon heating systems initiative and Heat and Buildings Strategy.
Cinders and other forms of domestic rubbish created filth but also generated great wealth.
CIC 2050 Group requests input to find out priorities for future industry leaders.
IHBC publishes response to consultation.