7 Must-Knows for Fire Damper Inspections

What to know

Fire dampers are a vital part of a building’s HVAC system and its air ducts. Every facility must have regularly inspected and maintained fire dampers. We’ve listed our 7 must-knows about fire and smoke damper inspections.

1. How does a fire damper work?

The purpose of all fire dampers is to completely block the passage of air through a duct or through a ceiling. There are three standard types of dampers:

  • Standard Fire Dampers are designed to operate with the HVAC system blower off during an alarm and they have a blade that is held open with a fusible link that melts during a fire, releasing the blade to drop shut with gravity.
  • Dynamic Fire Dampers are designed with springs to push the blade closed during a fire instead of using gravity.
  • Ceiling Radiation Dampers are not designed to block ductwork like Standard and Dynamic Fire Dampers but are specifically designed to limit the radiant heat transfer through an inlet or outlet of a fire rated ceiling.

2. What are fire damper inspections?

A fire damper inspection ensures the damper is free of foreign materials, dirt, dust and debris. These objects and particles can impair the closing of a damper in a fire. A certified fire and smoke damper expert ensures dampers are free of obstructions, defects, and are properly installed, maintained and operational.

3. Is fire damper inspection regulated?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) maintains mandatory standards for all fire and smoke dampers. The Joint Commission also provides standards for the damper performance.  A facility must have their dampers inspected 1 year after installation and again every 4 years. There is one exception; hospitals are required to have their dampers inspected every 6 years. There are also steps and documentation a certified fire damper expert must take in order to properly inspect a facility’s fire dampers.

4. Will I receive a fire damper certification report?

Carolina IAQ provides detailed documentation for every damper inspection. Our unique fire and smoke damper reporting system allows clients to review the operational status of their facility’s damper system. The detailed report assigns unique damper numbers to each damper, a list of pass and failed dampers along with repaired dampers, and more. High resolution photos are time-stamped to prove when the inspection was completed. A history report is also included. This report provides evidence for the owner's defenses should a fire occur.

5. What is the importance of fire damper maintenance?

Fire and smoke dampers ensure protection inside and outside of your building’s ducts. A fuel source, such as dirty air ducts, along with malfunctioning dampers can cause a fire to rapidly spread through the ducts to other areas in a facility. When the dampers are properly maintained, they can prevent the spread of smoke or fires throughout the building. 

6. Are there consequences for failing to have fire damper maintenance?

A fire can rapidly travel through ducts causing people to get trapped with no escape.The potential repercussions for neglecting fire and smoke damper inspections and maintenance include injury or death, insurmountable damage to a facility and/or major fines from the NFPA.

7. Where can I get more information about NFPA Fire Damper Standards?

Carolina IAQ has knowledgeable representatives prepared to answer any questions you may have about damper maintenance and service crews available to perform a fire and smoke damper inspection at your facility.  You can download a free copy of A Guide to Fire Damper Inspections.

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