Fire and Smoke Damper Testing & Inspection

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What are Fire Dampers?

The Code of Practice for Fire Safety in the Design, Management & Use of Buildings defines a Fire Damper as a “mechanical device that is operated automatically or manually and is designed to prevent the passage of fire and which, together with its frame, is capable of meeting for a stated period of time the fire resistance criterion for integrity”. 

Fire dampers are installed where ductwork (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) passes through fire compartment walls and floors.   It is important to stop fire spreading through the ductwork and to plug the gap in the fire defences.

Dampers are typically held open by a ‘fusible link’.  In the event of a rise in temperature, the fire damper closes. Basically the fuseable link melts at temperatures higher than ambient but low enough to indicate the that a fire is present, this then allows springs to close the damper blades and thus seal the ductwork stopping the spread of the fire.

 

Fire Damper Testing & Inspection

Fire dampers play a crucial role in a building’s fire safety system.  If a damper failed to work correctly the fire would spread so the difference between a well maintained, working fire damper and an non-maintained partially working fire damper could be the difference between life and death. 

Dampers are open most, if not all of the time so it is crucial to make sure they will still shut effectively when required. Effective fire dampers save lives by providing a barrier beyond which the fire cannot pass. Regular fire damper testing (known as drop testing), cleaning and maintenance is essential both as a legal requirement and as a critical part of building fire safety management.

Dirt, dust and other contaminates can build up over time on the operational parts of the damper in it's open position. These can stop the damper working correctly and must be removed and the fire damper tested to ensure it operates as intended, should a fire occur.

British Standard 9999:2008 BS 9999:2008 covers routine inspection and maintenance of ventilation and air conditioning ductwork and states that “Fire dampers employing channels and grooves to house sliding blades are susceptible to accumulation of dirt and other deposits…” providing ideal material & conditions to make more destructive and widespread any fire.”

BS 9999:2008 also states that: “… all fire dampers to be tested by a competent person on completion of the installation and at regular intervals not exceeding 2 years.  Spring-operated fire dampers should be tested annually and fire dampers situated in dust-laden and similar atmospheres should be tested much more frequently, at periods suited to the degree of pollution.”

The schedule for testing and maintenance therefore should be at a maximum interval of 12 months for spring operated fire dampers or at least every 2 years for other types.

 

Fire Safety Legislation Compliance

Fire safety law changed in October 2006 with the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and it is now the employer’s responsibility to maintain their fire safety systems.  

If a fire breaks out and gets into your ventilation or heating system are you sure your fire dampers will work correctly helping to ensure the safety of the buildings occupants? 

Firebarrier Services Ltd can provide this essential fire safety service of testing and maintenance of your dampers.

Call us now on (01803) 291185 for further information

 

 

Fire Protection Association

Quality Marks and Accreditations

ISO 9001:2000 Accredited Quality Assurance - Construction Line - U.K. Register of Qualified Construction Services. Reg. No : 9415