Fire and smoke dampers are a critical component of your active and passive fire protection system. If dampers are inoperable during a fire, this allows smoke to spread much more quickly, decreasing the chances of survival amongst building occupants. Compliant dampers protect egress routes allowing occupants more time to escape. Although damper maintenance is required by NFPA many facility managers lack the time and resources to properly address every damper in their facility. This can not only lead to citations but also put occupants at risk.
Here’s 5 ways to ensure your fire and smoke dampers stay compliant:
1. Know inspection requirements
This one is without doubt the most important. How can you maintain something if you don’t know what’s required? NFPA 80 & 105 outline the inspection requirements for fire and smoke dampers. In terms of timing they need to be inspected every 4 years in commercial buildings and 6 years in hospitals. When’s the last time your dampers were inspected?
2. Set up a maintenance plan
Keeping your fire dampers on a routine maintenance plan ensures that they are performing and functioning as the system designed them to. If inspections and repairs become too large of a task to accomplish in house, find an outside contractor that offers flexible programs that work for your budget.
3. Perform visual and physical inspections
Visual inspections need to be practiced regularly to confirm tracks have not been damaged in any way during construction projects, tracks are free of dust and debris and moving parts have proper lubrication. Physical inspections involve removing fusible links (if a fire damper) and allowing the blades to close. If blades close completely, the damper needs to be reopened and the fusible link should be replaced. According to NFPA 80 & 105 both fire and smoke dampers inspections need to verify that there is no damper interference due to rust or bent, misaligned, or damaged blades or frames.
4. Maintain proper documentation
Whether performed by facility staff or an outside contractor, written documentation must be available for review showing that all dampers were properly tested, maintained and are functioning as required. Write down locations, serial numbers, model numbers, damper sizes, access sizes, failures, and requirements for things that are not working. The more information the better! Make sure your reports are accurate, detailed, and organized. Keep them somewhere that is easily accessible so when it’s time for your AHJ survey – you are completely prepared.
5. Schedule or coordinate timely repairs
Depending on the age of your facility, inoperable dampers can be quite common. Damper failure is caused by issues ranging from broken actuators to excessive rusting. NFPA code requires inoperable dampers to be repaired without delay. If a dampers fails during your inspection make sure you coordinate repairs as soon as possible.
Need help making sure your dampers are compliant? PREVENT has inspected and repaired fire and smoke dampers in hospitals and commercial buildings all over the United States. Visit our website for more info.