The Importance of Fire Damper Maintenance

January 18, 2013

Regularly scheduled smoke damper and fire damper inspections are a critical part of fire safety maintenance plans. Regular testing and inspections ensure that dampers work correctly. Periodic smoke damper and fire damper inspections are required by the National Fire Protection agency (NFPA) and The Joint Commission. After installation, all smoke and fire dampers should be inspected within one year of installation. They are then required to be inspected every four years. The exception to this requirement is hospitals, where they are required to be inspected every six years. For maximum safety, regular inspections in addition to the code requirements can ensure that you are maintaining your passive fire protections. AirCare strictly follows procedures established by hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, research laboratories, and doctors’ offices to make certain that our Smoke Damper / Fire Damper Inspection services are in compliance with internal mandates.

Fire Dampers are used to maintain the required ratings of fire rated barriers (walls, partitions, floors) when they are penetrated by duct work. Fire and smoke dampers close when there is a fire. This prevents the spread of smoke and fire through the ventilations system.

When a rise in temperature occurs a fire damper will close and prevent the spread of flame through the barrier. Dampers are typically curtain style that will shut when a fusible link melts. The fusible link typically melts when the temperature rises to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. In some circumstances higher degree fusible links (e.g. 212°F) are installed in ductwork with consistently higher normal temperatures, such as hot decks in dual duct systems. Fire dampers are certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to carry hourly fire resistance ratings, typically 1.5 to 3 hours.

Smoke dampers are used in ductwork and air transfer openings that are designed to resist the passage of air and smoke. Smoke dampers may be required in smoke barriers and other smoke controlled systems. Typically smoke dampers are operated by smoke detectors in the ductwork that will close the smoke damper when smoke is detected. Smoke detectors often are hard wired to a central alarm panel in which the alarm will relay a signal to the smoke damper to cause smoke damper closure. The closure of smoke dampers are done by an actuator – the actuator is either electric or pneumatic. The actuator utilizes the jackshaft and linkage to open and close the blades of the smoke damper. Smoke dampers are UL certified with an air leakage class rating.

At Aircare Environmental Services, we stand by the services that we provide. Our technicians are highly knowledgeable and provide exemplary service. Our inspections go above and beyond. Our reports provide the location of every smoke and fire damper, with the applicable identifying number and whether such damper passed or failed inspection. We also provide a detailed report for each failed Smoke or Fire Damper as well as before and after digital photographs of every damper for proof of inspection to regulatory agencies. When you make Aircare Environmental Services part of your fire safety maintenance plan, you can rest assured that you are in good hands.