Security & Fire Protection Fire dampers - compliance or consequences?

Fire damper compliance has become a hot topic for building managers, who face severe penalties if compliance is not achieved and maintained, as Gary Nicholls, Managing Director for fire damper specialist Swiftclean explains.

Fire damper testing and cleaning in accordance with BS:9999 is one of the most critical aspects of compliance in property management, yet for years it has remained overlooked. The law, which is now being more rigorously enforced, requires all fire dampers to be tested and cleaned annually. However, a large number that we see appear never to have been tested or cleaned.

Fire dampers are installed wherever ductwork intersects internal fire resistance rated walls. They are designed to close automatically in the event of a fire, resealing the opening in the fire wall and helping to delay the spread of fire. This is such a vital fire prevention measure that the fire damper must be tested annually using a method called drop testing. The damper is effectively a set of steel louvres which normally remain in an open position to allow air to flow through the ventilation system. In the event of a fire, these louvres should drop into the closed position to provide a barrier against smoke and flames.

Unfortunately, we have seen fire dampers which were installed in the wrong place, not in line with the fire wall and even upside down, so that the louvres cannot possibly drop into the closed position. We have also seen fire dampers propped open with makeshift items for the purposes of testing the air flow, which were never removed, preventing the fire damper from closing.

A specialist company will be able to locate the fire dampers and provide cost effective expert maintenance, including drop testing, cleaning and any repairs that need to be done. You must choose a provider that will also provide detailed documentation with before and after photographic evidence of cleaning.

You may need this, as the consequences of non- compliance are potentially very serious. Not only could fire spread through a faulty fire damper, threatening lives, but the buildings insurance may be compromised and the property manager or person responsible for fire damper maintenance could also face

prosecution for negligence if the dampers have not been maintained. If negligence is proved, a custodial sentence can be imposed.

Regular annual testing and maintenance is vital, as it safeguards lives, protects reputations and is the best defence against prosecution. Choose your supplier wisely or you may have to face the consequences.

Fire dampers - open (above) and closed (below


TEL: 0800 243 471 42


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