Fire Damper FAQ - Find the answers you need!
Maintaining your facility while also staying up to date on codes and changes on fire dampers can be difficult. Finding the right answers can require hours of research and several different resources. We took some of our customer’s frequently asked questions and compiled them into a list to help you find the answers and keep your facility compliant!

1. How often do fire, smoke and fire/smoke dampers need to be inspected

NFPA 80, section 19.4 states that inspections and testing of fire, fire/smoke, and smoke dampers must be conducted one year after installation, and then every 4 years in commercial buildings, and every 6 years in hospitals. These tests cannot be performed by looking at the fire alarm panel. Manual cycling and visual inspections of each fire damper is required to ensure nothing is blocking or preventing the fire damper from functioning properly.

2. What happens if I don’t get my dampers inspected?

If you are not up-to-date on your damper inspections, your facility could be facing heavy citations and fines for not staying in compliance. More importantly, if your facility isn’t regularly conducting the required inspections, you and your occupants could be at very high risk in the instance of a fire. It only takes one faulty damper to lead to potential fatalities. Smoke inhalation is responsible for approximately 70% of building deaths, which can be lessened when dampers and other life safety systems are maintained and functioning appropriately. A potential tragedy in your facility could be avoided when the proper maintenance and inspections are done on time.

3. Who checks if I’ve tested/inspected my dampers on time?

Depending on your facility type, there are several Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) that may inspect your facility to ensure you’ve completed the necessary maintenance. If you are a hospital, the AHJs most likely to conduct an audit of fire dampers is The Joint Commission (TJC) or CMS. However, in commercial facilities, the AHJs can include fire marshals or building inspectors.
4. What kind of paperwork do I need to show to prove I’ve had them inspected?
fire-damper-reporting-picAfter a thorough and complete inspection of your dampers, code requires that a full, detailed report is produced that lists each damper, whether it passed or failed, and any details on failures or resolution of the failures. According to NFPA 80, section 19.3.4, documentation should include: indication of location of the fire dampers, date of inspection, any deficiencies discovered, among other things. The documentation should also list when and how the deficiencies were corrected, or if any of the dampers were deemed inaccessible. PREVENT always makes sure to provide our customers with an organized and thorough report in a timely manner, as it is usually the first thing an AHJ asks for when they arrive on site for a survey.

5. Why are fire dampers important?
Fire dampers that are functioning properly can prevent the spread of smoke throughout a facility and ultimately save lives in the case of a fire. When smoke is able to travel through a faulty damper to another room, or throughout a building, it can be deadly. As mentioned above, smoke inhalation is responsible for almost 70% of building-related deaths. Stopping or slowing the spread of smoke with the proper barrier management systems, can minimize property damage, allow for safe egress of building occupants, and contribute to the safety of the first responders on scene.

6. When do I have to repair a faulty damper?
NFPA 80, section 19.5.3 states “if the damper is not operable, repairs shall begin without delay.” It can be easiest and quickest to repair fire dampers simultaneously with the inspection. Given the inspectors have all the right tools and parts, repairs can be made as soon as deficiencies are found, saving you time and money by not having to do another sweep of the facility. AHJs appreciate this strategy as well, since repairs are made “without delay.”

7. If a damper is ‘inaccessible,’ it doesn’t need to be inspected, right?
Incorrect. 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. A damper should never be labeled inaccessible simply because it’s out of reach or unavailable at the time, especially in hospitals. Access doors can be installed and access to patient rooms can be coordinated. However, if these attempts are not enough to reach a fire damper, they must be added to Plans for Improvement (PFI) and filed with the TJC. For more on inaccessible dampers, you can go here.

PREVENT Life Safety’s team of professional and expert fire damper technicians can help you with quick and thorough inspections of your fire dampers, smoke dampers, and fire/smoke dampers. Our technicians have a track record of accessing hard to reach dampers that other companies have written off as inaccessible. Due to our reputation, many clients contact us for a second look at their dampers after other inspection companies fail to provide a complete inspection. Our reporting is detailed and organized and has been applauded by several AHJ representatives during customer surveys.

We understand the importance of complete and accurate fire damper inspections and reporting, not only in the case of an AHJ survey, but also in the case of a real emergency, and we want to ensure that your facility, employees, and patrons are safe in any instance. Stay up-to-date and get your dampers inspected and tested on time!

Learn more about fire damper inspections or repair or call 1-877-392-6074 to discuss your facility’s compliance.
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