Fire Damper Drop Testing – Hydro X

Fire Damper inspections and Drop Testing are critical for fire safety.

Fire and smoke dampers are fitted in ductwork to prevent the spread of fire through the use of fire-resistance rated walls and floors. Fire dampers are responsible for slowing or stopping a fire inside of a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, helping to minimise any damage to the structure itself and most importantly to protect the people within the building.

Why do Fire and Smoke Dampers fail?

Foreign materials and particulates such as dirt, combustible dust, and debris can accumulate within the ductwork. These foreign materials can impair the proper functioning of the fire dampers, leaving the building occupants at risk in the event of a fire. Typical issues also include obstructions or damage to the fire damper, poor hinges or parts, misalignment, bent tracks, rust, or damaged frames or blades.

It might take only one faulty damper to allow the spread of a fire, therefore it is imperative to allow regular checks to be carried out.

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Fire Damper Inspections

The British Standard 9999:2017 gives clear guidance that covers routine inspection and maintenance of ventilation and air conditioning ductwork and states that all fire dampers should be tested not exceeding a 12 months period.

Hydro-X Air also complies with the Health Technical Memorandum (HTM) 03-01: Specialised ventilation for healthcare premises Part B: Operational management and performance verification which calls for fire dampers in hospitals to be tested every 12 months.

What are the responsibilities regarding fire damper testing?

As the building owner / responsible person on-site you need to ensure that all fire and smoke dampers within your building(s) are located, serviced and tested. Hydro-X Air can help to ensure you meet the regulatory requirements and support you in compiling an asset list and schedule to ensure regular checks are carried out for continued safe operation.

Is Fire Damper testing a legal requirement?

The simple answer is yes – and regularly. There is a DOC (duty of care) on those responsible for fire dampers to make sure they are both regularly tested, and tested when they are first installed on the premises.

British Standard (BS) 9999 2017 stipulates that any dampers installed require more frequent testing than previously thought (as mentioned above they need to be atleast tested annually). The use of buildings code of practice ensures those responsible must make sure to test fire safety systems and to maintain them routinely.

Fire protection cannot be provided if devices/tools are faulty/out of date, thus proving the importance of the dampers being tested and cleaned to an optimal working condition.

In the workplace the BS 9999 also reinforces that fire alarms should be tested atleast once a week by those responsible. 

Fusible Links

There are two foremost types of fusible links, a mechanical version and an electrical version. The mechanical fusible link is known as a ‘trigger device’, either shutting or releasing elements of a structure to improve fire safety.

Solder is used to grip two metal strips to each other, with the purpose being that these two separate when there is an element of danger (heat). When the temperate surrounding these strips reaches a certain level they melt and the door (or other fire damper testing device) is ‘triggered’ to protect those around it.

Electric fusible links are used to stop wiring from becoming too heated and potentially causing a fire hazard. They consist of a small wire piece which is used to become the first port of call if anything goes wrong. Working in the same way a fuse does, the electric links will be destroyed first in the event of an explosive rise in temperature. This occurs because they are designed to operate at lower temperatures than their surrounding parts.

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