The importance of fire smoke/dampers

Fire and smoke dampers are a crucial element of your passive fire protection system. By working together with the other elements of your passive fire protection system, they restrict the spread of flame and smoke throughout a building in the face of a fire. Your passive fire protection system protects your facility’s egress routes, minimizes property damage and ultimately saves lives. Approximately 80% of all deaths resulting from fires can be attributed to the effects of toxic smoke on the human body.

How Fire Dampers Work To Compartmentalize Smoke:

Your building is compartmentalized with fire-rated separations including fire walls, fire doors and fire dampers in the air ducts. These elements separate your building into smaller compartments, confining smoke and fire to the compartment in which it starts. Fire/smoke dampers work to restrict fire and smoke from passing through the ductwork by closing in the face of a fire. What triggers them to close is what separates the different types of dampers from one another (fire dampers, smoke dampers, fire/smoke dampers). By preventing the spread of flames and smoke through your ductwork they protect egress evacuation routes, giving occupants more time to exit the building safely.

Codes Associated With Dampers:

- Fire Dampers are required by all building codes to maintain the required fire resistance ratings of walls, partitions, and floors when they are penetrated by air ducts or other ventilation openings.

Inspection Codes:

- NFPA 80 19.4.1 -Each damper shall be tested and inspected one year after installation.
- NFPA 80 19.4.2 – The test and inspection frequency shall than be every 4 years, except in hospitals, where the frequency shall be every 6 years.


Ensure Your Fire, Smoke & Fire/Smoke Dampers Keep Compliant:

- Perform physical inspections which are required every 4 years, except in hospitals where they are required every 6 years.
- Ensure these inspections are carried about by someone who is experienced in damper inspections and understands how each type of damper works.
- If using a third party, choose inspectors who offer detailed reporting that includes: damper location, damper type, inspection results, and the corrective action.
- If deficiencies are found, make sure repairs take place without delay.


Almost 70% of all building deaths are associated with smoke inhalation. Because smoke travels so quickly (120 – 420 feet per minute) a faulty damper can lead to serious consequences. It enables smoke to travel much faster, causing more damage to property and lives. This is why it is so important that your fire dampers are always up to code.

Need help staying code compliant? Learn more about Prevent Life Safety’s Fire Barrier Management Programs

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