Fire and smoke dampers save lives. So much so that BS9999 Code of Practice for Fire Safety in the Design, Management & Use of Buildings requires all ducting, whether it is for air conditioning, heating or ventilation, be fitted with fire dampers. In addition to being tested upon installation, these dampers require regular testing and maintenance as part of a wider fire safety maintenance plan.
Traditional fire dampers (curtain damper) employ a fusible link which upon contact with heat of a set temperature, is deigned to melt, causing the damper to close and block access to flames and smoke. However, studies have shown that this system alone is not fool proof and that in certain situations, such as when the ventilation system has been shut down; as the fire intensifies, so does positive pressure, which pushes towards adjacent fire zones, spreading smoke in its wake. Meanwhile, combustion gases in the ducting cool down so much that the temperature at which the fusible link usually melts, may be reached either very late or sometimes not at all.
With this in mind, when a ventilation system is shut down, best practice would be to close all the fire dampers too. This requires motorised fire dampers. Such devices can be linked to a fire alarm system which employs smoke detectors in the ducting to detect smoke and close the dampers long before a curtain damper would reach its maximum temperature.
According to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, it is the employer’s responsibility to maintain their fire safety systems. If you run a business or own a building it is your responsibility to book regular fire damper tests and ensures that a proper maintenance plan is followed. Most fire ducts must be inspected at least every 12 months and not exceeding 2 years and that any faulty fire dampers are repaired or replaced immediately upon discovery.
Nationwide Fire & Security engineers are equipped to inspect fire dampers, fire spinklers, smoke vents and other fire safety systems throughout the UK.