Knowing the ins and out of fire damper inspections is essential for keeping your home or office building safe. Whether you’re a contractor who installs fire damper products or an office building manager looking for guidance on an upcoming building inspection, there are a few things you should know about fire damper inspections. Thankfully, the team at Lloyd Industries is here to answer some of your most frequently asked questions!
- What is a fire damper?
- Types of fire dampers
- How often should fire dampers be inspected?
- How do local and state building codes affect fire damper inspections?
What is a Fire Damper?
Before you can understand how and when inspections should occur, you need to have a basic understanding of what a fire damper is and how it operates. According to the Lloyd Industries website, a fire damper is a type of passive fire protection product in a building’s heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC) ductwork. Passive fire protection involves products that are preventative, including fire dampers, access doors, and building design that limits the amount of damage a fire can cause a building. Active fire protection involves reactionary products, such as sprinklers, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and even firefighters.
Fire damper products, like these by Lloyd Industries, are hidden behind walls, floors, and ceilings, but they are an integral part of keeping a building safe. Picture what would happen if a fire started in your office. Although walls help slow and even possibly prevent the spread of smoke and flames, there are still several other ways that the fire can spread through different parts of the building.
If a fire can access the ductwork of the building’s HVAC system, smoke and flames can spread rapidly throughout the building, preventing people from evacuating and causing irreparable harm to the building’s structure. When a fire damper activates, the blades within it close, preventing smoke and flames from entering the HVAC system. The blades can activate through a variety of factors, including smoke detection or integration with a fire alarm system.
Fire Damper Types
Companies such as Lloyd Industries manufacture a variety of fire damper styles. The two most prevalent forms are dynamic fire dampers and static fire dampers. Dynamic fire dampers are for HVAC systems that remain on during an emergency. Dynamic dampers must be powerful enough to work despite the amount of air moving within the ductwork.
For the fire damper post pasted below, both dynamic and static fire dampers completely block airflow when closed. The difference between the two fire dampers is static can be installed in systems where fans power off during the fire, dynamic dampers are installed in systems where fans continue during a fire.
In addition to static and dynamic fire dampers, a building may also decide to install smoke dampers or combination dampers. The Lloyd Industries website explains that a smoke damper is a type of fire damper that prevents smoke from moving throughout a building in the event of a fire. Believe it or not, smoke, not fire, is the primary cause of death in victims who experience an indoor fire. The combination of thermal damage coupled with the dangerous gases can cause irreparable harm to a body. Smoke dampers help give business or homeowners time to call 9-1-1 as well as escape the building in the event of a fire.
A combination damper features the best of both worlds by combining a smoke damper with a fire damper. These styles help prevent smoke and flames from traveling throughout your home or office in the event of an emergency and are an excellent solution for buildings of any type.
How Often Should Fire Dampers Be Inspected?
As with all fire protection products, a licensed contractor or another expert must install each fire damper. It’s also essential to ensure that a professional inspect your fire damper at regular intervals. But what exactly does that mean? A contractor must complete an operational test of each fire damper upon installation. After installation, the frequency of inspections depends on the industry.
After installation, a fire damper must be inspected after one year, regardless of the type of building or industry. This follow-up inspection ensures the fire damper is working correctly and is installed correctly. Once the one-year review is complete, fire dampers must undergo a thorough inspection every four years for non-healthcare facilities. Hospitals are the one industry that has a different frequency for inspections and are inspected every six years.
What Happens During a Fire Damper Inspection?
You should always consult a professional to complete your inspections. Services exist across the country, or you could follow up with the company you purchased the damper from. Companies such as Lloyd Industries have contacts with specialists in nearly every state and can connect you with an inspector or inspection agency.
When an inspector arrives to survey your fire damper, there are a few key things that they should complete and test:
- The inspector should find and actuate, or operate, every fire damper in your building. They should remove and reset the link that ensures the damper will fully close in the event of an emergency.
- The inspector should note the location of each damper on a map.
- For smoke dampers, the inspector should manually activate the actuator to ensure it operates and closes fully.
In addition to testing each damper, an inspector should provide a detailed report that includes information on the location of each damper, each damper’s identification number, whether the dampers passed or failed the inspection, and if it failed, a detailed explanation of why. Many companies also provide before and after photos of each damper, as well as a review of their inspection and how your building is protected.
Building Codes and Fire Damper Inspections
When your fire damper is installed, it’s essential to discuss any applicable local or state fire codes with your contractor or government officials before you occupy the building. The team at Lloyd Industries can help point you in the right direction for questions about where to find this information if you’re unsure.
Building codes vary from state to state and even across municipalities. Confusion about whether or not a specific code applies to you or details surrounding the installation of your fire dampers could prevent your building from passing its overall occupancy inspection. At Lloyd Industries, we believe that it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
The team at Lloyd Industries is here to help keep you and your home or office safe from smoke and fire damage. Whether you’re looking for dampers, access doors, or roof curbs, Lloyd Industries has the products you need with more than 30 years of experience to help you feel safe and secure.