What Are Fire Dampers and Why Do They Need to Be Maintained?
February 11th, 2022
Last updated: September 29th, 2022
In any commercial or residential setting, fire safety is crucial. Fire dampers are some of the best tools we have when it comes to protecting people from smoke and fire. You can’t be too careful when it comes to fire prevention and fire suppression measures, and don’t forget that peoples’ lives are at stake when it comes to fire safety.
In this guide, we delve into the world of fire dampers. What are fire dampers, and why are they so crucial for building maintenance schedules? Do you have legal responsibilities within your commercial property to ensure your fire dampers are safe?
What is a Fire Damper?
A fire damper is a device used in ducting or when there is a wall in the property that is fire-resistant. The ducting would ordinarily allow fire to spread, but a damper closes when a certain temperature is reached. This stops flame and smoke from passing through. Without a fire damper, then the smoke can quickly spread through the ductwork and the fire would also be able to flow and spread.
A damper may not totally put out a fire, but it can help to hold the fire in one place and make it more manageable to tackle, as well as keeping people in the other parts of the building safe and giving them time to sound an alarm and escape. Their main purpose is to stop fire from spreading through ventilation ductwork and shafts by closing off the flow of air in case of fire.
There are a few different types of fire damper fittings as we explain below. Often, they are made out of galvanised steel which will get very hot but won’t let the fire spread so quickly. Different types of shutter and damper, which can shut in different ways, may be suitable for your building. For this reason, it is very important that you seek professional advice about what might be best.
Smoke and fire dampers are an integral part of fire safety systems.
Types of Fire Dampers
As with a lot of fire safety and fire prevention systems, it is very much a case of having to find the exact option that is best for your commercial building. Different types are available, and this means that you have options when it comes to price and suitability for your building.
There are three main types of fire dampers:
Heat-activated fire dampers are the most common type of fire damper and work by sensing when the temperature reaches a certain level. The fire damper has a method to sense the heat getting to a dangerous level and will then close automatically to stop the spread of fire and smoke.
Automatic fire dampers activate when a fire alarm or smoke detector is triggered in the building. Once smoke is detected and the fire safety measures come into play then the damper will automatically close to isolate the fire.
Manual fire dampers are operated by manual means, such as a lever or switch. This often provides you with a cheaper option but it also runs the risk of not being as fast or effective, relying on human intervention to work.
Why do Fire Dampers Need Maintenance?
Like any other part of your building, fire dampers need to be maintained to ensure they are working effectively when you need them.
Fire dampers should be maintained in accordance with the fire safety system’s maintenance plan. This will ensure that they are checked and cleaned regularly to stop the build-up of dirt, dust, and grease. All of these can stop the fire damper from functioning properly.
Though fire dampers are not a legal requirement, it is essential that you have adequate fire prevention and fire suppression methods within the building, and if not you can face legal action. Maintenance helps you with building compliance and ensuring that those who use your premises are safe.
How Often Do I Need to Maintain Fire Dampers?
The fire safety system should be included in a maintenance schedule that outlines how often safety equipment should be maintained. This will depend on the type of fire damper and what the building is used for, however, it is reasonable to check every 6-12 months.
Regular fire damper inspections are essential to identify potential faults and damage within the ductwork or fire smoke dampers.
Getting Your Fire Safety System Checked
Working with fire dampers is a specialist skill. At Robinsons Facilities Services, we boast a team of qualified professionals who have the accreditation and experience to work with different systems and equipment.
We can offer planned maintenance contracts or emergency, reactive services if something goes wrong with your building.
Book an Appointment
Working across Yorkshire, we cover North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and South Yorkshire and offer a fast, efficient response time to all breakdowns and repairs. Contact us today for all planned, reactive maintenance or emergency call out. Call 01423 226578 or get in touch to see how Robinsons Facilities Services can help.