How Smoke Spreads – and How to Slow it Down

Crazy fact: up to 80% of fire-related deaths come about as a direct result of smoke inhalation.

That number is way too high.

Here at Excel Fire, we are constantly trying to understand and educate ourselves more about how smoke spreads, and what protocols we can put in place to help stop it doing so. As a landlord, property manager or person in another position of fire-related responsibility, it’s important not to underestimate the damage which can be caused by smoke – and the first step in doing that, is by understanding how smoke spreads.

What exactly is smoke?

It may sound like a silly question but, when put into practical terms, it does bring some perspective. Smoke is quite literally carbon and other harmful gases and particles which are suspended in the air. These particles would be too small for us to see individually but, when something is burning, enough of them come together to form visible smoke.

Why is it so hard to stop the spread of smoke?

By its very nature, smoke is difficult to control. It moves both horizontally and vertically through the air to fill every space it can reach. In doing this, it actually traps air in the corners of the room. How smoke spreads is what makes it so dangerous, in that it takes a lot to control; in some cases, and certainly after an extended period of time, it’s impossible to do so.

How can we slow the spread of smoke?

Through our ongoing training and education in the fire safety industry, we’re able to understand more and more about how smoke spreads – moreover, how to mitigate and slow it down. It’s really a case of installing adequate passive fire protection equipment and systems which can at the very least delay the spread of smoke, allowing residents or inhabitants of the building in question to escape.

Passive fire protection equipment includes everything from fire-rated doors to actual physical barriers and more. Not only should your property be properly compartmentalised, but done so with the correct products to slow the transfer of heat between floors, walls and ceilings. Each of these products will increase the fire safety rating of your building and ultimately, could save lives.

We say that often, but it’s true. If we can all understand better how smoke spreads, we’ll simply continue to do our job better – and that’s the end goal.

As one of a few FIRAS certified passive fire protection installers here in the UK, we love nothing more than passing on our own knowledge of how smoke spreads, slowing it down and improving your fire safety strategy. We’re pleased to be conducting fire risk assessments and more with explicit Covid safety measures in place, so please, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team.