SAIRAC – the importance of smoke barriers

Ron Burns of Fire Serve was the guest speaker at the SAIRAC Johannesburg technical meeting on 17 January, which focused on the importance smoke barriers. 

Ron Burns of Fire Serve was the guest speaker at the SAIRAC Johannesburg technical meeting on 17 January, which focused on the importance smoke barriers. 

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New SAIRAC members, from left: PJ Shepherd; Jaco Pieterse (chairman); RW Lodge; and MD Molara.

It was a dark and stormy night at the Bryanston Sports Club when the Johannesburg branch of the South African Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (SAIRAC) gathered members and guests for its first meeting of the year.

Before getting into the technical talk, centre chairman, Jaco Pieterse handled the usual formalities, wishing everyone a blessed 2019 and sharing upcoming courses and events in the centre calendar. He highlighted the upcoming Dreosti memorial lecture which will be taking place across the country in June and the annual golf day on 14 March 2019.

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These two members also received certificates for the successful completion of SAIRAC courses, from left: Derrick Craig, Rampuru Mpuru, with Jaco Pieterse (chairman).

He handed out certificates to new members as well as certificates for courses completed last year. Then he formally introduced speaker for the night, Ron Burns, who has been in the industry for over 32 years and specialises in smoke ventilation.

The talk, entitled ‘smoke barriers in accordance with EN12101, why compliance is critical in the design of systems’ was very informative and Burns’ quick-fire wit and humorous delivery kept all in attendance gripped throughout the talk. His clever analogies and relatable examples made often-difficult subject matter easy to understand and, despite covering a lot of ground, he managed to keep the attention of the audience throughout.

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Ron Burns of Fire Serve was the guest speaker for the evening.

The starting point of any smoke ventilation design is understanding the statutory regulations, the fire load and compartmentalisation, said Burns. Correctly compartmentalised buildings result in efficient smoke ventilation systems and potential financial savings to the overall project.

The scope of this talk was to highlight easy to implement fundamentals and to demonstrate advantages of code compliant designs. The talk also investigated some overlooked principles which can result in unplanned and unwanted consequences in fire conditions.

He covered the applicable standards – both locally and internationally – and highlighted some key design points from the EN standard, explaining why such seemingly minor details mattered to the extent of life and death. From creating reservoirs to channelling smoke and the calculations of drift – the talk offered quite a comprehensive summary despite the expansive topic.

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Ron Burns talks about the importance of smoke barriers.

Burns concluded by sharing some practical case studies of where smoke barriers were used in local projects; he showed the audience how it should (and shouldn’t) be done.

A barrage of questions followed, which Burns swiftly tackled knowledgeably before everyone enjoyed some snacks and a quick catch up.





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