Fire Dampers - Fire Damper Drop Testing


Southern Ductwork Services can provide an essential fire safety service whereby all your fire dampers will be located to ensure they are within the fire containment area and that they can be fully accessed. They will be cleaned, drop tested and reset to ensure they are in good working order. If simple faults are found e.g. damaged linkages, these can also be replaced.

If there is a fire, your fire dampers are intended to prevent the ductwork conveying fire from one area to another. Regular maintenance by Southern Ductwork Services is essential to ensure correct operation of the fire dampers as a faulty fire damper will not prevent the spread of fire.

A Fire Damper is a mechanical device that is operated automatically or manually and is designed to prevent the passage of fire. Fire dampers or ‘doors’ are located where ductwork passes through fire compartment walls and floors. They are typically held open by a ‘fusible link’ (a device that releases a component such as a fire damper or fire shutter at a set temperature).

When this link is met by high heat (as in the case of a fire), the link will melt, closing the damper and stopping the spread of fire.

Fire dampers play a crucial role in a building’s fire safety system and maintenance of these will go towards compliance with Regulatory Reform ( Fire Safety ) Order 2005 which states that it is now the employer’s responsibility to maintain their fire safety systems. In addition to this, British Standard 9999 covers routine inspection and maintenance of ventilation and air conditioning ductwork and states that depending on the type and style of dampers, the maintenance for these is specified at a maximum interval of 12 months for spring operated fire dampers or 2 years for others.

Southern Ductwork Services offer a Fire Damper drop testing service for our clients. This involves a (usually) yearly visit and physical test of each fire damper itself, involving releasing of the spring and the action of the damper vanes to shut off the duct in the event of a fire. Over recent years it has become apparent that fire ducts can and do fail to operate in the event of a fire, usually due to a build up of waste matter in the damper mechanism. This drop test is due to alleviate this uncertainty as to whether the damper will operate in fire conditions. Once the drop test is carried out, a test sheet will be offered to the client, including highlighting of any failed drop tests and any recommendations for remedial action.

The Building and Engineering Services Association’s (B&ES) DW/145 Guide to Good Practice for the Installation of Fire and Smoke Dampers highlights the role of the CDM (construction, design and management) coordinator (as required by the 2007 CDM regulations) and the principal contractor, who have key roles in the planning and management required to assure a coherent and compliant installation. The CDM coordinator will clearly identify specific responsibilities for appropriately competent members of the team, which may include, for example, project manager, building control, fire consultant, damper manufacturer and installation contractor.

With regards to successful damper installation, the principal criteria are:

  • Installation should meet design specification;

  • Dampers must be installed in accordance with tested methods:

  • Dampers should be fixed either directly in, or immediately adjacent to, the fire barrier and must be supported independently of the duct work .

Southern Ductwork Services install fire dampers and smoke shields as part of our everyday business so are very knowledgeable on both.

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