Mandatory inspections are required by NFPA code for fire, smoke and fire/smoke dampers, every 4 years in all buildings, except hospitals which is every 6 years. Facilities should always adhere to these deadlines to ensure building safety against a fire, and also avoid any consequences from any Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).
However, time between inspections can be lengthy. So how do you maintain the same level of safety and compliance between inspections? If any issues do arise in between inspections, it’s important to know how to handle and fix the issue at hand to maintain a safe facility until the next code-required inspection.
Here are some tips for maintaining damper compliance between inspections:
Quarterly or semi-annual in-house surveys and preventative maintenance can help uphold the integrity of your fire dampers. These parts can often degrade or corrode and rust over time, so regular preventative care will help extend the life of the fire damper system. Facilities tend to schedule these surveys during typical downtime, as to not detract from other pressing issues in the facility. Even though you’ve gone through the required inspection, made the necessary repairs, and have documentation to back it up, it can still be helpful to ensure compliance is still being maintained during the 4 or 6 years until the following inspection.
Monitor Construction & Maintenance in the Facility
As facility managers, a key component in maintaining facility safety is monitoring construction that may be happening at any given time. Construction or maintenance work being done above the ceiling, could affect the integrity of your fire dampers. This is typically easy to follow, since an “above-ceiling permit” is typically ordered before any work can begin in or around the duct-work. Sometimes dampers can become bent or knocked out of place or alignment if they have been bumped into or walked over. Checking your dampers in the area where recent construction has taken place will help you figure out if your life safety systems have been compromised.
Educate Staff to Report Air-Flow Issues
Fire, smoke, and fire/smoke combination dampers play a crucial role in helping restrain fire and smoke from traveling throughout the facility. When dampers are not in working condition, they will often affect the air flow in a facility which can make room temperatures uncomfortable or affect the pressure differential in the building. Small fixes, like propping a damper open with a wire or tool, are commonly done to resolve this issue. However, these fixes are often not compliant and can prevent the damper from functioning properly in a fire, putting your facility at risk. Hiring a damper inspection company that provides you with maps indicating damper locations can make it easier to track down these airflow issues and resolve them properly. Also educating facility staff and ensuring that air flow problems are reported and fixed properly will help to avoid any issues and keep your dampers compliant longer.
Anything limiting a damper from working condition will put your building and occupants at risk during a fire, which is why it is crucial that they are always being maintained. Facilities need these systems to work when they are supposed to, and a little extra maintenance and preventative care can help make sure that happens.
Life Safety Inspections with PREVENT
PREVENT Life Safety is here to help when your facility is ready for its damper inspection. Our technicians have conducted hundreds of damper inspections, and work with the nursing staff to ensure all dampers are touched. We arrive on-site with all the necessary tools for the job, and to conduct any repairs along the way if needed. To get a quote, contact your local account manager, or give us a call at 877-392-6074 or request a free quote online.