The overwhelming majority of property owners are responsible individuals who understand the importance of taking steps to mitigate the risk of fire on their premises. That includes making sure fire dampers are installed in their HVAC system’s ductwork. However, installing fire dampers alone is not enough. It is imperative that those dampers are also inspected on a regular basis to ensure that, should the time come when they are needed, that they are able to respond quickly and effectively.
Fire dampers are located within ductwork and ventilation systems where the duct passes through fire containment zone walls and floors. In the event of a fire these fire dampers are designed to shut, preventing flames and smoke from freely passing through the fire zones. But how does something like a fire damper know when to shut?
When people think of dampers they tend to think of simple hand-operated devices that are closed manually, such as the damper in their chimney at home. But modern dampers designed for use in large commercial buildings are different.
In most cases, these dampers, installed in the HVAC system ductwork, employ a fusible link that melts when the temperature exceeds 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the link melts the damper is released and swings shut blocking smoke, heat and flames from spreading.
In some cases, the melting point of the fusible link may need to be higher, and in still other cases buildings may employ an actuator that opens and closes the damper.
The job of the damper is simple: to prevent the HVAC ducts in a building from becoming a conduit for fire to spread. Fire dampers also help prevent the spread of smoke throughout a building. And when you consider that most fire deaths are the result of smoke inhalation you begin to understand the value of that function.
It is imperative, for the safety of all building occupants, that fire dampers are regularly tested and maintained to ensure they will work when you need them to.
Our fire damper testing provides you with an essential fire safety service. All fire dampers will be located to ensure they are within the fire containment zones and that they can be fully accessed. They are then cleaned, lubricated, drop-tested and reset to ensure they are in good working order.
If simple faults are found such as damaged linkages these can also be replaced. Mechanical drawings can be updated and a report is compiled detailing the time, date and action taken of any remedial works, adhering to fire safety compliance.
Building owners and managers have a lot on their plate already and fire damper testing may seem like something they can put off to another day. But they should think again. You see, fire damper testing is not just a common sense thing to do to ensure the safety of your building and its inhabitants, it’s also the law.
British Standard BS 9999: 2017 The Fire Safety Code of Practice for the Design, Management and Use of Buildings covers routine inspection and maintenance of ventilation and air conditioning ductwork and states that; all dampers must be tested and maintained at a maximum interval of 12 months. BS 9999 also puts the duty of care squarely on the building owner to make sure the ductwork and all its related components, including fire dampers, are regularly cleaned and properly maintained.
Some might be tempted to think the odds of being prosecuted for violating an obscure fire safety code related to fire damper inspection are remote. They too should think again. The following are just a few examples of many that demonstrate the UK government takes fire safety, including fire damper testing requirements, seriously.
A hotel in Finchley, North London was recently fined £30,000 after being found to be in violation of the Fire Safety Order of 2005.
A manufacturer of bedding in Huddersfield was fined £18,000 for a variety of fire safety breaches, with the presiding judge in the case branding the company’s manufacturing facilities a “death trap”.
A hotel manager in Mansfield was fined £15,000 and jailed for 8 months for failing to ensure fire safety equipment in the hotel had undergone necessary maintenance.
These and many other cases make it clear that the UK government will not abide by fire safety violations.
At Cleanair UK we are scrupulous in making sure all the work we perform is in full compliance with current industry best practices and conforms to all government regulations as well as health and safety standards. Our years of experience and the expertise of our team members enable us to provide our leading-edge services in the most efficient manner possible. As a result, we are able to keep our costs down and pass the savings on to our customers.
We understand that, while necessary, government-mandated inspections can potentially interfere with the smooth operation of various types of business, including hotels, restaurants and offices. This is another reason why you should opt to have the professionals at Cleanair UK perform necessary fire damper inspections. Our vast experience enables us to carry out our duties in a discreet fashion with minimal disruption to your operations and minimal inconvenience to tenants or hotel guests.
Because fire dampers are located within the HVAC system ductwork, and that ductwork is used to circulate air throughout a given building there is sometimes concern about the type of cleaners we use and whether they produce potentially harmful fumes.
Customers can rest easy knowing that all of the cleaning and lubrication products we use while performing maintenance on their fire dampers are ISO certified and adhere to UK and EU regulations regarding the use and disposal of such products. Every member of our staff is rigorously trained in the proper use of all cleaning and lubrication materials and we continually strive to provide a service that has the lowest possible environmental impact.