Fighting Fires and Saving Lives in Large, Single-Story, Undivided Buildings

A closer look at the need to incorporate automatic smoke vents into these designs
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Sponsored by The BILCO Company
By Jeanette Fitzgerald Pitts

The incredible damage that resulted from the 1953 GM Livonia plant fire provided the nation with an important example of how dangerous fires in large, single-story, undivided buildings can be when there is no way to remove the layers of smoke and hot gas building up at the ceiling. The lessons learned from that incident led to the practical inclusion of automatic smoke vents in large single-story factories and, eventually, the code-mandated inclusion of these technologies in large industrial, manufacturing, and storage facilities. Automatic smoke vents are a powerful fire-response solution that can deliver significant protection to the people and property inside a burning building and help create an environment that allows firefighters to access and contain a fire as quickly and safely as possible.

For more information on the code-required equipment and best practices for incorporating automatic smoke ventilation into the roof design of a specific project, contact the local fire-protection authority or reach out to a reputable smoke vent manufacturer for assistance. Both resources will help designers to save lives and fight fires in large, single-story, undivided buildings.

Jeanette Fitzgerald Pitts has written nearly 100 continuing education courses exploring the benefits of incorporating new building products, systems, and processes into project design and development.


The BILCO Company For more than 90 years, The BILCO Company has been a building industry pioneer in the design and development of specialty access products for both commercial and residential projects. The ISO 9001-certified company is a wholly owned subsidiary of AmesburyTruth, a division of Tyman PLC.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in May 2019