Fire dampers in ductwork play a crucial role in a building’s fire safety system. If they don’t operate as designed fire can spread with rapid, lethal results.
The difference between a well-maintained, working fire damper and an ill-maintained, partially working fire damper can be the difference between life and death in the case of a fire and it can take only one faulty damper to allow catastrophic spread of fire and smoke.
Typical problems include blockages and obstructions, dirt and debris impeding a tight seal, corrosion and broken springs, poor installation or simply inadequate access to enable servicing to be carried out regularly.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places a duty of care on the building owner/occupier to take such general fire precautions as will ensure, so far as reasonably practical, the safety of the building and safety of the people within it. Section 17 of this Order deals with maintenance of systems to control the fire risk and requires that they are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
The British Standard calls for regular testing ‘not exceeding 2 years’. It does however go on to require that spring-operated fire dampers – which are the most common – should be tested every 12 months. Environment factors play a part in how often you should test too. For example, a dusty environment will require more frequent checks and cleaning.
Hospital engineers should be aware that Health Technical Memorandum 03-01: ‘Specialised ventilation for healthcare premises Part B: Operational management and performance verification’ calls for all fire dampers to be tested annually.