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Building and Fire Codes in California: Fire Dampers

Posted on July 18, 2013
by Wendy Stackhouse

Fire Damper

The State of California has adopted the International Building Code and International Fire Code published in 2009, which makes some changes to inspection and maintenance rules for all commercial buildings, including hospitals. We thought you might be interested in the new rules and we will start with Fire Dampers.

What are Fire Dampers?

Fire dampers are “used in heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts to prevent the spread of fire inside the ductwork.” A thermal element or electrical signal closes the damper when a high enough temperature is reached or a fire alarm system is triggered by heat or smoke. Wikipedia.

What are the new rules for Fire Dampers?

In commercial buildings:

Each damper must be tested and inspected 1 year after installation, and then every 4 years, every 6 years in hospitals.

The tests must be performed safely and personal protection equipment must be worn.

There must be unobstructed and full access to the damper.

Any fusible link must be removed for testing to make sure that the damper can close fully and lock. It must be reinstalled after testing and replaced if it has been damaged or painted.

The damper must be tested to make sure there is no interference because of rust or other damage to the frame, blades, hinges or any moving parts.

The frame cannot be penetrated by any objects that would affect its operation or blocked from closure in any way.

All inspections must be documented, including a record of how any problems were corrected. The documentation must be available for review.

Any change in airflow or noise from the duct system must be checked to make sure it is not related to the fire dampers.

If a fire damper is found to be inoperable, repairs must begin without delay and inspected and tested after repairs are complete.

Properly working fire dampers are essential to having a truly safe commercial building of any kind. We are glad that the State of California is taking fire dampers so seriously.

If your commercial building is ready for inspection, repair or maintenance of its heating, ventilation or air conditioning ducts, AirTek is ready and eager to help anywhere in California. We can also set up a schedule which will keep you in compliance with the State as well as put your mind at rest about the safety of your facility and the people who work and visit.

Next time: Smoke Dampers

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