Using Zoned Smoke Control in High-Rise Buildings

Smoke control by definition only seeks to compartmentalize the smoke and limit its spread to other parts of the building. In skyscrapers, this is especially important as there are many occupants that have to evacuate.

A zoned smoke control system divides the building into separate smoke control areas. By creating pressure differentials within these zones, the spreading of smoke is inhibited. When smoke is present, a mechanical exhaust system will activate within that zone and the other zones will pressurize at a different rate to provide a smoke barrier for occupants.

A zoned smoke control system is highly effective in that it creates a pressure “sandwich” around the zone where the fire is present. However, these systems can become quite complex as they have to coordinate with the HVAC system, controls and operational matrices.


Plus, building codes around the globe are highly varied. Therefore, the smoke control requirements for high-rise buildings differ drastically.

The Middle East is home to many of the world’s tallest buildings. As of 2011, The United Arab Emirates published the UAE Fire & Life Safety Code of Practice. This code is now a required compliance document for new projects. Within this code, smoke control is required in the form of pressurized stairs and a zone-type smoke control system. However, the zoned smoke control system is only required for egress corridors. 

Another area of the globe that is known for its skyscrapers is China. For the most part, tall buildings in China, Hong Kong and other areas in that region have codes similar to those in the United States. 

One big exception, however, is that Chinese codes require refuge floors to be located every 20 floors. Refuge floors must remain dedicated for refuge use and provide access to the exterior. Furthermore, smoke control and pressurization are required in stairs and corridors for all buildings over 105 feet in height. 

Creating effective smoke control in high-rise buildings can be extremely complicated. If you need help, click here to fill out our form for a free high-rise consultation to ensure that your high-rise plans will keep occupants safe and keep your building up to code.