The Joint Commission (TJC) Recommendations for “Inaccessible Dampers”
Unfortunately, if your facility has undergone major renovations since first constructed, newly installed ductwork, piping and other construction projects can often block access to originally installed fire and smoke dampers. Accessing these blocked dampers becomes an extremely difficult task and coordinating remodeling of these systems now must involve multiple sources. In this case the TJC has some recommendations.
The Joint Commission asks that facilities keep an accurate list of these particular dampers and add these items to plans for improvement (PFI). As upcoming renovations arise, facilities with the opportunity to reconfigure these out-of-the-way dampers must do so. Historically, The Joint Commission (TJC) allowed organizations to identify these dampers on their PFIs with an “open” projected completed date, now this field is required and a projected completed date must be included.
Another option is to decommission dampers that are no longer necessary, but there are many requirements that must be met in order to go this route. We’ll talk about this more in a future post.
When it comes to fire dampers, a lot of dampers are hard to reach, but not impossible. Make sure you search thoroughly, work to install access doors and coordinate inspection times in occupied rooms. When outsourcing your work it’s also important to hire professionals that don’t just write “inaccessible” on your reports before getting their hands dirty. If your dampers really are “inaccessible” make sure you mark them on your PFI and come up with a plan so they can be inspected in the future. Fire dampers are an integral part of your buildings fire protection system, and inspections can ensure your building is kept safe.