The RAL quality mark and smoke extraction
In 1925 German industry and the then government decided to standardise and specify technical terms of delivery. They laid down individual quality requirements for products and services and arranged for their observance to be monitored.
The RAL German Institute for Quality Assurance and Certification, based in St. Augustin, is responsible for recognising RAL quality marks. To date there are over 160 quality marks, certifying many thousands of products or used by service providers. One of these is the quality assurance for the installation and maintenance of smoke and heat extraction systems with the quality mark RAL-GZ 591.
No recognised codes
In the event of fire, smoke and heat extraction systems serve to draw off smoke, toxic fire gases and heat. In this way low-smoke layers are created, which provide people trying to escape and the extinguishing crews with a free view. The dissipation of the fire heat serves to protect the building structure and avoid fire spreading through heat radiation. Acknowledged codes exist for the planning of these systems, such as the Industry Construction Guidelines or DIN 18232-2.
However, there are no recognised codes for the installation and maintenance necessary. Associations, manufacturers and training organisations regularly conduct seminars to convey a minimum degree of qualification to the implementing companies and employees. But there is no uniform and verifiable standard for this work.
Strict rules for constantly monitored quality
The members of the "RAL Quality Association Smoke and Heat Extraction Systems”, which has been active for several years, have created the RAL GZ 591 quality mark. Regular checks of the work done by experts is planned, apart from the hurdles to be overcome, such as quality certification of the employees, assured spare part supply of the systems looked after and adequate insurance cover. A neutral quality committee of the RAL Quality Association is responsible for the observance of the requirements arising from the RAL quality mark.
Meeting the strict rules of this quality assurance assures architects and building owners that the smoke and heat extraction system will be properly installed. The manufacturers of smoke and heat extraction components entrust their high quality equipment to the quality assured specialist companies, knowing that these will be handled properly. The operator can be sure that qualified specialists will carry out the subsequent maintenance.
Exceed the minimum standard
The certifications apply worldwide, are reliable and objective. Their provisions are always up to date and apply in invitations for tenders and specifications as proof of the bidder's qualifications and recognition of the technical specifications. Smoke and heat extraction systems possessing the RAL quality mark exceed the minimum standard and assure especially high quality, a long service life, reliable functioning and expert supervision.
"The European regulations on the free movement of services prohibit statutory intervention in this field. In terms of technical standards, there will be a European standard on planning, installation and maintenance of safety systems, including smoke and heat extraction systems, in the foreseeable future,” added Kurt Seifert, Chairman of the RAL Quality Association Smoke and Heat Extraction Systems. "Companies that do not want to live up to this high quality standard are going to be in for a shock,” he warned. The erection and maintenance of smoke extraction systems in lift shafts is often carried out by "non-experts.” He is convinced that there is still a considerable need for qualification measures here.
Considerable advantages for clients
Apart from development of new lifts and tailor-made service to maintain operational safety and lift availability, the Dusseldorf lift company Windscheid & Wendel is also specialised in the subject of "lift shaft smoke extraction.” The company was the first in the lift industry to acquire the RAL certification.
"We are convinced that certification as an RAL-quality approved specialist company for the assembly and maintenance of lift shaft smoke extraction systems provides our clients with considerable advantages and we are proud to be the first lift company able to have the coveted certificate,” Gerhard Röllecke was pleased to note.