Fire dampers are an essential component of passive protection, helping to prevent the rapid, and highly dangerous, spread of smoke and fire through a building’s ductwork. If a fire spreads in this way it can quickly penetrate other fire and smoke barriers. Fire dampers slow the progression of fire giving people critical time to attempt to safely evacuate the building.
Safety apparatus is only of practical use if it’s in good working order. To ensure that it is, it needs to be tested regularly and maintained in order to be confident that if it’s ever needed, it will work and do its job effectively.
Poor upkeep or initial installation, as well as a failure to maintain dampers, can lead to a range of issues. Rust, dust, and disintegration can all cause them to fail to function properly when they’re needed. In the event of a fire, smoke and flames can move quickly through ductwork, making a very dangerous situation considerably worse. This will cause increased damage to the building, as well as spread fire to potential escape routes putting lives at risk. This is why fire dampers are so important.
How often do fire dampers need to be inspected to be compliant by law?
It is now a legal requirement that fire dampers should be inspected every year. The reason for annual testing is that fire dampers play a key role in overall fire safety. Testing them is as important as regular testing of fire alarms to keep buildings safe and prepared in the event of a fire.
Fire damper testing needs to be carried out by a competent and suitably qualified person. They should be repaired or replaced immediately if they’re found to be faulty.
They’re a key part of your fire safety infrastructure, and if they’re not working the entire infrastructure may be compromised. BS 999:2017 states that all dampers have to comply with the criteria of resistance to fire for a stated period of time. Any defects need to be logged with any necessary action taken.
The legal requirements may be for yearly tests but in practice, many proactive businesses have their fire dampers inspected more frequently. They are an aspect of your fire safety infrastructure that really can’t be left to chance.
What are the consequences if you don’t have your fire dampers tested?
If you fail to meet the requirement of the current legislative standards, the person who is responsible for the testing and maintenance of dampers could potentially face a large fine, and even a prison sentence up to two years.
Unless you can provide proof that proper testing of your fire and smoke dampers are adequately tested then you may have difficulty claiming for any fire damage on your insurance. Fire officers also have the power to close businesses down if the correct fire safety procedures are not in place, and fire safety measures are not working as they should. Therefore, it’s imperative that you ensure your fire dampers are inspected at least once a year.
Fire damper inspections are not an optional extra nor something that can be considered an afterthought. Both the commercial and safety consequences of not taking care of them can be severe. Failure to ensure their correct functioning runs a very high risk of serious consequences.
What does fire damper inspection include?
There is an established and thorough procedure when it comes to fire damper testing. An inventory of all the fire dampers in the building, as well as their location will initially be created. There will then be an individual visual inspection of each fire damper for any signs of damage, obstruction or obvious corrosion.
Each fire damper will then be activated, known as ‘drop testing’, and reset to check its overall effectiveness. All runners and channels will then be cleaned. A full inventory of any damaged dampers along with a schedule of any necessary remedial works will be produced.
Finally, a comprehensive report will be drafted that outlines the location, maintenance undertaken, and agreed replacements and repairs. It will also include any recommendations to improve the performance of the dampers and overall fire security, as well as detailed exception reports on any failures.
How do you get fire dampers inspected and tested?
If you have fire dampers installed in your premises you should arrange for a regular inspection schedule with a qualified and experienced service provider. ECS provides a complete fire damper and smoke damper compliance service.
As well as the basic legal compliance requirements for fire damper inspections our service includes:
We are one of northern England’s leading environmental and commissioning services providers. We can be trusted to carry out an extensive, regulatory compliant, fire damper survey. This can ensure your building’s ongoing safety and security, as well as the integrity of your fire safety infrastructure.
If your premises contain fire dampers then arranging for their inspection should be a key priority. Call 01535 600688 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to one of our experienced team today.