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Fire/Smoke Damper Testing

Fire/Smoke Damper Testing

Safeflow Ventilation can provide an essential fire safety service to your dampers. This will comply with BS 5588-9 code of practice for ventilation and air conditioning ductwork.

This code of practice also includes BS 9999 Fire Damper Legislation, which states that fire dampers should be cleaned and maintained at intervals stated below.

Fire dampers are crucial passive fire protection products used in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning ducts to prevent the spread of fire inside the ductwork through fire-resistance rated walls and floors. In the event of a rise in temperature, the fire damper closes, usually activated by a thermal element. This melts at temperatures higher than ambient but low enough to indicate the presence of a fire, allowing springs to close the damper blades. Fire dampers can also close following receipt of an electrical signal from a fire alarm system utilising detectors remote from the damper, indicating the sensing of heat or smoke in the building occupied spaces or in the duct system.

As they are open most, if not all of the time, it is vital to ensure that they will still close effectively when required. By providing a barrier beyond which the fire cannot pass, effective fire dampers save lives; so regular fire damper testing (known as drop testing) as well as fire damper cleaning and maintenance is both a legal requirement and a critical part of building fire safety management. Safeflow is one of the UK's leading specialist buildings services providers offering a fire damper testing, cleaning and maintenance service, in accordance with BS 9999:2008. This gives guidance for the two main types of fire damper: spring operated fire dampers should be drop tested, cleaned and maintained at intervals of no greater than 12 months; while all other models should be drop tested, cleaned and maintained at least every two years.

Important new BESA guidance on fire damper testing

Maintenance of fire and smoke dampers from the Building & Engineering Association (BESA). normal use of the ventilation system gathers an accumulation of contamination on the fire damper and its operational parts.  This must be removed and the fire damper tested regularly to ensure that it operates as designed, should a fire occur. In a healthcare setting, additional care is needed, so Safeflow also complies with Health Technical Memorandum (HTM) 03-01: Specialised ventilation for healthcare premises Part B: Operational management and performance verification.  In care applications Safeflow will help the client to agree a regular testing interval with the local fire prevention officer.


Safeflow Fire/Smoke Damper inspections to include

  • Inventory of all dampers to be tested.
  • All Fire/Smoke dampers will be manually released to ensure the integrity of the spring loaded shutter.
  • The Fusible link should be inspected for any deformity or damage.
  • The Fire/Smoke Damper will be cleaned and lubricated within the closed position.
  • The Fire/Smoke Damper shall then be opened and re-set.
  •  Any severe corrosion found shall be reported to the client.
  • Test results with client information including position within the building/system, date, and name of operative shall be recorded and any comments noted if further action is required.
  • Asset register to include damper location and ID number.
  • Inspection results including details of failed damper operation.
  • If drawings are provided, update and annotate details.
  • Digital photographic evidence of damper condition prior to and after testing procedures unless otherwise specified by client.
  • Explanation of failed operation and recommended corrective or remedial action.


Frequently Asked Questions Re Fire Damper Inspections


How often do fire dampers need to be inspected?


It is recommended that each fire damper must be tested and inspected one year after the installation. After that one-year mark Safeflow Ventilation recommend a yearly inspection and test, but regulations state that after the 1 year mark, fire dampers can be tested and inspected every four years except for hospitals which have a six year frequency.  We highly recommend that if fire dampers are in areas of high dust, then inspections are completed on a more regular basis.


What is a fire damper inspection?


A fire damper can be defined as “a device installed in ducts and air transfer opening of an air distribution or smoke control system designed to close automatically upon detection of heat. ... All the dampers installed in a building must be tested prior to occupancy and again 1 year later under normal operating conditions.


What do fire smoke dampers do?


Whilst fire dampers function to help stop the passage of fire, smoke dampers work in a similar way to preserve the integrity of physical smoke barriers e.g. floors and walls. They can also be found within air conditioning and ventilation ductwork. They also serve the same purpose as fire dampers to enable building occupants to escape and fire fighters to have easy access. However smoke dampers do not have the same stringent temperature restrictions as fire dampers. They are routinely situated in areas where smoke penetration would present particular challenges.


How does a Fire Damper work?


Fire dampers are crucial passive fire protection products and are used in air conditioning, ventilation and heating systems. In general a fire damper works when heat from a fire causes the normal temperature of a room to rise to approximately 165 degrees Fahrenheit i.e. it is designed to close automatically on the detection of heat. Below is a video that demonstrates a Fire Damper in action.

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