Fire and Smoke Dampers & Fire Damper testing
Fire Dampers in buildings ductworks are not something that you think about very often, but they save lives and should be a key part of your building’s fire safety strategy.
What are fire dampers?
Found in HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems and ductwork they prevent the spread of fire and smoke inside the ductwork that passes through a building. Ductwork will pass through fire zones and fire-resistant rated walls and floors so you also need to have fire dampers at these key fire zones to ensure that fire can’t pass from one floor to the other or from room to room through the ductwork system. Fire and Smoke dampers also prevent the spread of smoke inside the ducts.
How do they work?
They are activated by a thermal element or fusible link device that melts at a temperature higher than normal and where a fire is present. When this rise in temperature occurs and the link melts the fire damper or internal metal curtain within the ductwork closes. The damper is sprung loaded to drop quickly in the event of a fire and has interlocking metal blades internally that forms an air-tight shield of metal within the ductwork. This helps to compartmentalise the location in the event of a fire, giving people in the building valuable time to escape the smoke and fire or for firefighters to reach the affected areas (before the temperatures exceed the fire rating level of the fire damper itself). Automatic fire dampers linked into the buildings management system or fire alarm system can also close following a signal from this centrally managed system.
How often should fire dampers be tested?
According to the British standard code of practice BS 9999 2017, Spring operated fire dampers should be tested annually and fire dampers that are situated in dust laden ductwork and similar dusty environments should be tested much more frequently to ensure that they are able to fully function and can close.
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order it is a legal requirement to test fire dampers at regular intervals in accordance with fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings (BS:9999:2017).
Where are Fire Dampers located?
They sit within the ventilation and along intersection points (walls and partitions) where the ductwork passes through fire compartments. They are part of a building’s internal make-up and can be hard to locate and access which leads to fire safety issues where dampers have been left or neglected from regular inspections and testing to ensure they are functioning correctly and will work in the event of a fire.
Reporting and testing Fire Dampers?
Gemini AMPM’s ventilation division have skilled operatives who have all gone through BESA’s ventilation training programmes and are experienced fire damper maintenance technicians. We test and provide detailed reports on Fire Dampers for your records in accordance with HTM 03-01 & BS 9999: 2017.
Each damper will have it’s own record, with the asset labelled and photographed to show evidence of their ability to open and close properly or any defects or issues such as inaccessibility that can then be addressed and rectified to ensure that all your dampers are fully compliant.
Get in touch with us about Smoke & Fire Damper Testing