When considering fire safety in buildings, not many people give serious thought to the trash chute as part of the overall equation. Even experienced building managers may not understand that all aspects of their trash chute is governed by a local fire codes. These same rules apply whether it’s a residential structure, hotel or other commercial facility.
Basically, a trash chute works similar to that of a chimney. Many chutes have a fan on top to remove odors creating a vacuum that can draw flames and smoke. Combining that possibility with the flammable material often found inside such as cooking grease can result in a serious fire hazard. Sludge and grime, clogged air vents and malfunctioning doors can also be contributing factors. That is why it is essential trash chutes are checked regularly for problems. Purchasing replacement parts and hardware is easy and helps extend the life of any chute system regardless if it is for trash, recycling, or linen.
The trash chute door is an essential component of fire safety. When chute doors are not latching properly and regular maintenance isn’t performed to remove sludge and grime buildup, the risk of a sudden blaze due to ignition increases dramatically. Tenants have been known to throw lit cigarettes and candles, smoldering rags and flammable chemicals down trash chutes. The added vacuum from improper door operation increases the risk of fire rapidly spreading throughout the building.
Dumpster room fires are also very common occurrences. Property owners should make certain that their trash chute including the discharge door is fully code compliant in order to protect residents. When hopper doors work as they should only a minimal amount of smoke can seep out. Building codes also require that the trash chute top is fitted with a certified vent cap to allow adequate airflow. Without this, noxious gases and fumes can start accumulating inside the unit. Checking the vent cap for damage particularly after storms should be part of any trash chute safety maintenance program.
Chase walls surrounding the trash chute are required to be constructed of safety rated fire block that offers protection for several hours. The idea is to allow ample time for building evacuation. Unfortunately, many older structures don’t have this type of safety construction in place. This means that if the chute system must be replaced the chase walls will need rebuilding to meet today’s regulations and trash chute code requirements.
When it concerns trash chute safety for your building never cut corners with inferior products that may cause future legal problems. Remember, trash chute doors must undergo an annual inspection and be certified to comply with current building codes. Check out our selection of trash chute parts and doors and get your chute system up to standard code.