To most, common knowledge of what makes a good fire safety system includes the presence of fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, fire blankets, alarms, and smoke detectors. Of course, these are all essential parts of fire protection, but one must not forget about fire dampers.
What are fire dampers?
Fire dampers are passive fire protection products used in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts used to prevent the spread of fires. They are usually installed inside ductwork through fire-resistant rated walls and floors.
The dampers engage when a rise in temperature is detected, this is usually activated when a fusible link activates by melting at a temperature higher than ambient but low enough to indicate the presence of fire (typically 72 degrees Celsius). Spring locks engage, causing the damper to close, hence containing the fires in a localised place and preventing it from spreading anywhere else in the building.
There are many different types of dampers, curtain fire dampers, insulated fire dampers, intumescent fire dampers, mechanical fire dampers, single and multi-blade fire dampers. However, they all have one thing in common: they protect the health and lives of people in the building.
Why are they so important?
Fire dampers are the unsung heroes of your typical fire protection system; when they’re in full working operation, they can make a significant difference in the case of a fire.
Most people aren’t aware of fire dampers in their building, or their primary purpose. While it is true that they are in the ductwork, they don’t quite contain the fire, more so, they redirect the fire towards the fire compartment, a room which is completely insulated with flame retardant walls, doors, and floors.
With this in place, people are given much more time to evacuate the building, and the fire will be localised in a single area with limited fuel rather than spreading all over the building.
BS 9999:2017 states: “… all fire dampers (are) to be tested by a competent person on completion of the installation and at annual intervals. 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.”
Was your fire damper tested after installation? Are they tested annually? Are you sure that your building will be at the peak of performance of fire protection if faced with a scenario where fire can quickly spread through the building?
This can be the difference between life and death in case of a fire.
What can we do for you?
Despite how essential fire dampers are in fire protection systems, we’ve found in some of our audits that dampers have been criminally overlooked. Engineer reports have done little other than tick a box to say that the damper has been inspected, without genuinely paying attention to whether it is correctly installed or in decent working order.
Karsons Consulting can inspect your building to see if the same has happened to you, every fault in installation, condition and working order of the fire damper can be spotted and running repairs can be addressed straight away.
To find out more, contact us so we can discuss opportunities to optimise your fire safety systems.