Fire dampers are a key component in life safety compliance. Before understanding fire damper installation, it helps to understand fire dampers in general. Fire dampers are passive fire protection products used in ventilation ductwork that crosses a fire-resistance rated internal wall to prevent the spread of fire inside the ductwork of a facility.
A fire damper is designed to, and required to, close automatically upon detection of heat (such as a fusible link or heat detector). The damper automatically closes to prevent airflow and restrict the passage of fire and/or smoke. Fire dampers are required to close against the maximum calculated airflow of that portion of the system in which they are installed.
Fire dampers are installed in ducts passing through or in air outlet openings terminating at shaft walls, fire barriers (such as an occupancy separation wall, horizontal exit walls, corridor walls, corridor ceilings, floor-ceiling assemblies) and other fire rated assemblies as required by building or life safety code standards.
Always remember that when installing fire dampers, the dampers require accessibility for fire damper inspection, testing, and maintenance. In some situations, where space constraints or physical barriers in new construction restrict access to a damper for periodic inspection and testing, the damper must be a single- or multi-blade-type damper and comply with remote inspection requirements (found in NFPA 80 or NFPA 105.)
After installing fire dampers, an operational test must be completed. The fire damper test ensures that the damper has been installed correctly within the air distribution system, is fully functional, closes completely without obstructions and contains all the correct components and devices as part of its assembly. The operational test may be required to be conducted under normal HVAC airflow and non-airflow conditions. The damper should fully close under both conditions.
Under severe fire exposure, a duct may eventually collapse or significantly deform, creating an opening in the fire barrier. Fire dampers provide a method of protecting such penetrations and openings. After installing fire dampers, an operational test must be completed. It helps to have an experienced fire damper technician test the installed fire damper.
Finally, dampers must be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and in accordance with their listing. It is best practice to hire experienced fire barrier technicians who have the experience to install fire and smoke dampers that are code compliant.
Have fire dampers that need repairs? Read: Signs Your Facility Needs Fire Damper Repairs
PREVENT’s experienced technicians can assist your facility with fire damper installation and deliver the reports that keep you complaint.
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