Limiting the impact of fire is important in every public building. But avoiding it in schools is seen as especially important. For schools with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, there’s an important piece of technology that protects them. Fire dampers are passive fire protection products used in ducts to prevent the spread of fire inside the ductwork through fire-resistance rated walls and floors. In this blog, we’re taking a closer look at fire dampers – and how React Specialist Cleaning works to keep them functional.
Fire dampers: back to basics
Facilities managers everywhere will know about fire damper technology. But for our less specialist readers, we thought we’d go back to basics to explain what happens in a fire damper. Fire dampers are designed to prevent a fire from being able to spread through the ductwork to other areas of a building.
When a rise in temperature occurs, the fire damper closes and stops the spread of hot air and smoke. It’s usually activated by a thermal element. This melts at temperatures higher than ambient but low enough to indicate the presence of a fire, allowing springs to close the damper blades. Alternatively, fire dampers can close following receipt of an electrical signal from a fire alarm system utilising detectors remote from the damper. In that case, it will indicate the sensing of heat or smoke in the building occupied spaces or in the HVAC duct system.
The British Standard 9999:2017 Code of Practice for Fire Safety in the Design, Management & Use of Buildings requires all ducting to be fitted with fire dampers. All ductwork, whether it’s for ventilation, heating or air conditioning, should be fitted with fire dampers that have been tested upon installation. BS 9999:2017 recognises both mechanical devices with a fusible link, and automatic electronic devices linked to a building’s fire alarm system.
Regularly testing and maintaining fire dampers saves lives
Fire dampers play a crucial role in buildings’ fire safety systems, which is why it is important that they operate correctly. A properly functioning, well-maintained fire damper could be the difference between life and death in the event of fire in a building. With this in mind, it is important to make sure that fire dampers are inspected, tested and maintained on a regular basis.
The BS 9999:2017 legislation on fire damper maintenance states that all fire dampers must be tested by a competent person after they have been installed and at regular intervals not exceeding two years. For spring-operated fire dampers, tests must take place at least every 12 months. And they must occur even more frequently if they’re installed in an area that is affected by high levels of dust or pollution.
For the educational sector, this is quite a task. There are 32,113 schools across the UK, of which 2,381 are independent schools, 1,256 special schools and 351 pupil referral units. Together, these schools educate a total of 10.3 million young people, and employ upwards of a million teaching and support staff. That’s a lot of fire dampers to test each year.
School fire damper testing for safe HVAC systems
React’s specialist air hygiene team is highly experienced and skilled in the cleaning of all ductwork systems, Fire Damper testing and indoor air quality surveying. With coverage across the United Kingdom, we complete all work in accordance with all relevant standards to ensure client compliance. In terms of school fire damper testing, we provide a comprehensive fire damper drop testing service in accordance with BS 9999:2017.
Having fire dampers tested will highlight if there is anything wrong with them that could potentially cause them to fail at the duty of preventing the spread of fire. It will also allow an evaluation of the condition of each part of fire dampers to allow planning for a replacement schedule. According to the BS 9999:2017 fire damper legislation, faulty fire dampers must be repaired or replaced immediately. We can work with schools to create a maintenance plan to help budget and schedule repairs, and meet all relevant regulations. But more importantly, our school fire damper testing service keeps students and school staff safe.
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To find out more about school fire damper testing and our range of other air hygiene services, contact one of the team today.
Post by Shaun D. Doak
Shaun is the Managing Director of React Specialist Cleaning. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sector.