Fire systems are an area that should never be scrimped on or forgotten. No matter how careful you may be, fires are possible, and there’s no foolproof way to prevent them. Life and death may be determined by maintaining the building safety regulatory requirements, while failing to do so puts people at unnecessary risk.
A ventilation system that works well is another building must, but did you know they can also escalate a fire situation? Ventilation and air duct systems are a fire spreading conduit unless your Fire Dampers are in good working order to prevent such an eventuality. On the other hand, faulty dampers will fail to slow or stop the spread, so regular fire damper testing is essential. But how often should they be tested and cleaned? And what is a fire damper in the first place?
What is a Fire Damper?
A fire damper is a device that’s fitted with fire limiting compartments such as in floors and walls, but they may also be found in the building’s ventilation system. Dampers act as a fire shutter, prepared to close when a high temperature is detected.
How Do Fire Dampers Work
Fire Dampers help stop flames from passing in the ventilation system where rapid oxygenation can escalate and spread any fire, so dampeners interrupt that airflow, smothering the fire. They are often operated with a circuit or sensor system that relies on fusible links that melt in the heat fire generates. This meltdown triggers fire damper activation and closes the doors. Fire dampers along circuit systems can also be manually engaged via a control station or programmed to particular specifications, such as smoke detector activation. Either of these processes will stop – or at least delay – fire spreading. As a result, fire dampers are an essential safety component anywhere people work or live. However, to work correctly, dampeners must be in tip-top functional order with nothing blocking, delaying, or impeding their job.
The Three Most Common Types of Fire Dampers in Buildings
- Dynamic Dampers: These are often installed in vertical barriers as they are fitted with an extended spring-loaded mechanism for deployment. During a fire, the mechanism will release and shut the damper doors by forcing them to drop closed. A fan in the system builds up pressure to keep the doors sealed and the fire barrier in place.
- Static Dampers: This style has a curtain-type design and is installed primarily in a horizontal barrier system. During a fire, the curtain section falls to contain heat, flames and smoke, ensuring it does not cross the barrier.
- Fire/Smoke Dampers: This last type is designed to block both fire and smoke separately from each other and is not dependent on the presence and heat of a fire to activate.
All the types of Fire Dampers listed come with their pros and cons. However, one or more types are fitted in most buildings, so you must consult your fire safety team for advice on their maintenance and upkeep to ensure your business remains safe and protected in the event of a fire.
What’s Involved With Fire Damper Testing?
Testing generally is a two-part process, which is always best to be skillfully conducted by a professional or a trained individual.
- First, a visual inspection must be carried out to check there is nothing in the way of the dampeners that might obstruct their opening and closing. This inspection is best completed by a knowledgeable individual or professional hired for the task. This may also be the same person or persons nominated as being in charge of the fire system, as most companies or buildings have that one assigned to the job.
- They will look to confirm that each damper is correctly and appropriately installed, following the building schematics. This varies from building to building, so the nominated person needs to understand each structure they oversee. They will also ensure there is no visible damage or corrosion and no repair requirements. If there are repairs required, the nominated person will order these.
- They will verify there are no obstructions to closing in the event of an emergency. Another check will often be done to check airflow; if there is low airflow, dampers are not likely to work well in a fire.
- The second element is called a Drop Test. This test activates each damper just as it would activate in the case of fire. High heat would be the usual activator to release the dampeners causing the fusible link to melt and the damper to close; however, there is also a mechanism in place to allow the link to be released manually for testing.
- The professional will also examine and confirm mechanical and system integrity, including each unit. Fire dampers must close entirely in the test to be certified as functional and safe in the case of a fire confirming the integrity and seal of the closure to protect the entire building.
How Often Should Fire Damper Testing Be Done?
Many government regulations are outlined to govern all aspects of fire safety, particularly in relation to Fire Dampers. These stipulate that testing must be done annually at the very minimum while being thoroughly and professionally tested. Dampers in hospitals and other high-risk facilities should test their dampers more frequently. Always look up guidelines for your particular business or premises or get professional advice on specific policies. You can find more government-direct information in the government guidelines.
Keep Your Fire System Safe With Grease Gone
Fire safety is critical for any business or institution as an essential duty of care for clients, employees, and other building users. Fire damper testing is crucial for proper functioning and safety, but it’s also something best conducted by a professional. Grease Gone are trained fire damper testing specialists, and we offer Fire Damper Testing, Ventilation Cleaning, and other building safety services to support your system’s safety and functionality. For skilled testing services, book the Grease Gone Commercial Cleaning London team.