Hot-smoke is artificial smoke that is heated to become buoyant so that it performs like smoke plume produced by a real fire. The hot smoke test assesses the detectors response to rising smoke, and determines whether the detectors are correctly activated. It also ensures that any smoke control systems, such as extractor fans, are adequately sized and operating efficiently. It is important to realise that the heating of the hot smoke plume does not attempt to replicate the heat and other aspects of a real fire. After all, to do so would probably cause actual damage to the finishes and structures of a building. However, cold-smoke tests do not simulate the buoyant behaviour of real smoke.
Public buildings such as shopping malls, restaurants and convention centres often require extensive fire-safety precautions. Generally, buildings with large open spaces require a smoke detection, warning and control system to comply with the New Zealand Building Code (NZBC). A hot-smoke test is always carried out when a new system is first fitted. Appendix B of Acceptable Solution C/AS1 of the approved documents for the NZBC states that agreement must be reached with the Territorial Authority on the parameters for the smoke control system, at the building’s planning stage.
Airlab conducts hot-smoke tests using LPG or diesel burners coupled to a smoke generator. The tests are often filmed and downloaded to a CD for later study and / or contractual records. However, the testing is always visually inspected by the design engineers, often with the local territorial authority and with the fire department in attendance.