fire and smoke dampers

Do fire smoke dampers require emergency power?

Fire smoke dampers are a crucial part of any building fire safety system. These are ducting fittings that are usually used whenever there is a fire-resistant wall in the property. Ducting vents can present a means through which fire and smoke can escape from one room to another. Fire dampers are fitted to ducting vents to prevent this from happening.

Fire dampers are made from galvanised steel and can be vertical or horizontal, depending on the way that it shuts the ducting closed. Each type is suitable for different applications. It will create a sealed barrier that contains fire and smoke within the fire compartment.

For a fire damper to be of use it needs to be functioning effectively. Mechanical fire dampers will generally be triggered into action by heat, melting a fusible link. Motorised dampers, for both fire and smoke, have a sensor that detects smoke, in turn activating the damper to shut. They will also usually contain a facility to enable control via an external control panel or a fire alarm system if connected.

If a damper fails

Dampers are installed to ensure that a fire barrier is maintained through which fire and smoke cannot pass. If the damper doesn’t fully close during an emergency, then the barrier will no longer be effective. This will result in flames and smoke passing from one fire compartment to the next. If the damper works as intended then it will ensure that everyone has enough time to safely evacuate the building. If it fails, then lives, as well as property, are put at risk.

Is emergency power required?

In case of fire, where power lines are damaged and the power supply to the fire and smoke dampers fails, other alternatives will need to be in place to ensure that fire and smoke ducts function as they should. There are a number of different options when it comes to fire dampers. You may wish to install hard-wired solutions in some rooms, with programmable solutions in others. Hardwired fire dampers will work independently without a command being sent from a sensor. Programmable fire dampers can be operated from a distance and can be wired so that the process is fully automated.

So, what happens in the event of a fire and the power supply being interrupted?

Fire dampers that operate without the need for sensors or circuits will rely on a fusible link. In the event of a fire, this link will meltdown from the heat. This will usually be at around 72c. This will, in turn, engage the fire damper and seal the duct.

Whichever system you choose you need to be confident that your fire dampers can be relied upon in the event of a fire and the power supply failing, although in most UK installations alternative power won’t be necessary.

Your supplier/installer should outline how your particular system will operate in the event of a fire. In most cases, motorised/actuator driven dampers will typically drive shut if the power supply fails. This in-built, fail-safe means they don’t need an emergency power supply or battery backup. If there is a power-cut, this fail-safe measure is an essential component of your fire protection system.

Regular maintenance is essential

It’s a legal requirement for fire dampers to be tested at least annually. BS 9999:2017 states that arrangements should be made for all fire dampers to be tested at regular intervals by a competent person on completion of the installation, and at least once a year afterwards. Any faults should be replaced or repaired immediately and then shown to be working. At ECS, we can provide a comprehensive fire damper testing service. We will ensure that your fire and smoke dampers are in good working order and will operate in the event of a power failure. Call 01535 600688 or email info@ecs-yorkshire.co.uk to find out more.