Functioning dampers

Everyone entering a building has the reasonable expectation for fire life safety systems within that building to function properly should a fire or smoke event occur. Key to protecting occupants from the spread of fire or smoke are properly functioning dampers. For dampers to function, all components of the damper must activate as designed. These elements differ slightly between damper types. A few of the elements are described here, as a small sample of the many aspects an ICB-certified, ANSI-accredited HVAC FLS professional considers in the course of their inspections.

Functioning Fire Damper

  • A functioning fire damper will have the proper fusible link installed.
  • A functioning fire damper will have a clean track and is lubricated on a maintenance schedule so the damper slides smoothly and quickly when activated.
  • A functioning fire damper has adequate access for inspection personnel to test and reset the damper with less risk of injury.

Fire and smoke dampers must pass a rigorous series of tests prior to installation in a fire life safety building system, with further requirements for how they are installed. However, even with excellent installation, regular maintenance and inspection of the dampers is necessary to ensure optimal performance.

Fire damper propped open with 2×4, with inadequate access for testing, maintenance, and reset of the damper.

Demonstration of adequate access for fire damper testing, maintenance, and reset.

Functioning Fire and Smoke Dampers

  • A fire and smoke damper will include an actuator, which drives the rotation of the damper open or closed.
  • A functioning fire and smoke damper will have the actuation correctly initiated by the test apparatus or signal device.
  • A functioning fire and smoke damper will have tight linkages so the damper opens and closes when actuated.
  • A functioning fire and smoke damper will have a clean and correctly set path of movement so the damper opens fully and closes fully.
  • A functioning fire and smoke damper will have adequate access to test, maintain, and service all components of the damper, including the actuator.
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