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The Importance of Fire Damper Inspections

Posted on October 26, 2016
by Melissa Asplund

Fire dampers are a piece of fire protection equipment that is installed throughout the air duct system in buildings. They can be found in all commercial and large buildings in fire zones. These passive products are key to preventing the spread of a fire should one occur. They are composed of steel shutters that quickly close when the presence of fire and/or smoke is detected. The closing mechanism must be inspected to ensure proper operation in the case of an emergency.

There are three different types of fire dampers. The first type is called a fusible link. As a rise in temperature is detected, an S-shaped link will break causing the fire damper to close. The second type of fire damper is electrical. In an electrical fire damper, the trigger is associated with the fire alarm in the building. If the fire or smoke detector goes off, the fire damper will automatically shut. A pneumatic fire damper is the final type of damper you will come across. In a pneumatic damper, an air hose leads into the chamber, and the moment the fire alarm is triggered, the air gets shut off causing the dampers to close.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), a standard has been placed to regulate these inspections. NFPA 80 addresses general requirements for installation, inspection, care, and maintenance of all fire safety related protectives including fire dampers. Without proper functioning fire dampers, smoke can quickly spread and lead to an excessive amount of property damage and even risk lives. Inspections are required within one year after installation. Beyond that, regular buildings require the inspections every four years; with the exception of hospital facilities having a six year requirement.

To properly inspect a fusible link type damper, a trained professional must remove the S-shaped link. The damper should immediately slam shut without the presence of the link. Then, the doors are pushed open and the link is reinstalled. Electrical dampers have a reset button located above the ceiling. The inspector must simply press the button and the damper should close. Turning this button back on will reset the damper. Finally, in the case of inspecting a pneumatic fire damper, one must disconnect the pneumatic air hose in order to confirm the damper will shut. Once complete, the hose is reconnected.

One of the key components to proper and safe fire damper inspections is documentation. At any time, Joint Commission, a Fire Marshall, or Safety Officer is allowed to request a building’s fire safety documentation. The absence of such materials can result in a hefty fine.

At Airtek Indoor Air Solutions, we provide a spreadsheet that maps the location, damper type, label number, and brand of each damper. It is noted whether it passed or failed. Failures can be a result of being installed incorrectly (installed left-to-right instead of top-to-bottom) or due to rusting. Any extra notes are provided in the report as well. Sometimes, electrical wires can be found, which would case an impediment in the damper.

Fire damper inspections are an integral part of being prepared in case of an emergency and should be taken seriously. For your free quote on having Airtek Indoor Air Solutions inspect your dampers, call 1-877-858-6213 today.

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