The History of Fire Dampers

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In 2020, a fire department responded to a structure fire on average every 23 seconds. However, thanks to the tremendous strides made in the invention of fire suppression devices, losses from those fires have been mitigated.

One of the crucial weapons in the battle against fires is how we construct our HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning). The focus here is mainly on how the HVAC dampers are made. Fire dampers, smoke dampers, and combination fire and smoke dampers have been game-changers.

What are Fire Dampers?

A fire damper is a type of HVAC damper that, in the case of fire, will activate to interrupt the passage of fire and smoke in the ductwork. These dampers have been essential to buildings’ fire protection design since 1939. At that time, the National Board of Fire Underwriters recognized the effectiveness of having an HVAC damper that would automatically close in the presence of fire and smoke and activate an automatic fan shutdown.

Since then, engineers have ensured fire dampers and smoke dampers are an integral part of their HVAC damper design. Fire and smoke dampers have proven to be crucial safety devices that can prevent fire, flame, and smoke from spreading through a building.

Who Invented Fire Dampers?

The first patent for fire dampers was issued in March 1953, with credit for the invention given to Jeffrey M. Cross. In his filing, he described “a fire damper for impeding the spread of fire from the burning of plastic pipes inside a wall or floor structure.” As we know, it is now commonly used in ductwork made of metal and plastics.

What are the Parts of a Fire Damper?

Fire dampers, for the most part, consist of several parts, including:

  • Frame
  • Moveable blades
  • Activation device
  • Fusible link

How Do Fire Dampers Work?

Fire dampers activate based on the temperature surrounding them. The fire damper’s fusible link will melt when the temperature reaches approximately 165 degrees Fahrenheit. When this happens, its door will close, preventing the fire from passing through it and progressing further into the HVAC system, causing more damage. For buildings with rooms that routinely have temperatures that rise to 165 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter, such as kitchens or laundromats, they will need fire dampers with fusible links set with higher melting points.

The Different Types of Fire Dampers

  • Dynamic
  • Static

Dynamic fire dampers – Dynamic fire dampers are placed vertically and are spring-loaded. They also feature a continuous fan. A fan like this produces continuous air pressure, which activates the door’s spring-loaded system, causing it to shut immediately while still allowing the fan to stay in use. Dynamic fire dampers are for use in dynamic HVAC systems when the movement of airflow is meant to continue, even within the presence of fire.

Static fire dampers Differing from dynamic dampers, static dampers are placed horizontally and have a curtain-like design. These have HVAC fans that will turn off when the fusible link melts, allowing the fire damper’s door to fall, with gravity doing the work. A static fire damper is meant for use in static HVAC systems when the airflow is meant to stop at the indication of fire.

Why Are Fire Dampers Important?

Fire dampers are a critical component of fire safety. Without them, fires and smoke can quickly spread throughout the entire structure. Fire dampers and smoke dampers can buy people escaping a burning building precious time to get out safely, heading off a disaster in the making. These HVAC dampers also help contain the fire so that rather than spreading and turning into a structure-wide fire, the calamity can be held in a specific area.

Are Fire Dampers and Smoke Dampers Different?

Fire dampers are designed to be installed in ventilation and ducts. Once the heat from a fire activates it, it will cut off airflow into subsequent spaces. Therefore, flames can no longer spread, and it has effectively created a fire barrier.

On the other hand, smoke dampers are HVAC dampers created to be low-leak dampers. They are generally motorized so that they can be shut down in a fire event and then reopened should they be needed to control ventilation systems and subsequent smoke from other spaces within the building. These are primarily used in dynamic HVAC systems, and they will lower the chances of smoke being released further into the ductwork of the HVAC system.

What Do You Need to Do to Maintain Your Fire Dampers?

Regularly scheduled maintenance for your fire dampers is as important as installing them because you don’t want them to malfunction in the event of an emergency. Depending on whether you have a static or dynamic fire damper installed and the type of structure you have, your maintenance schedule may vary. It is important to keep track of all documents related to your fire dampers so that if you need to provide any documentation, you have it readily on hand.

Who Do You Go To When You Want To Purchase Fire Dampers?

When it’s time to purchase fire dampers, go to an industry leader that you can trust. For over 35 years, Lloyd Industries has been helping to protect the workplace community. Not only do we provide a wide variety of fire dampers, both static and dynamic, but we also carry combination fire/smoke damperscorridor fire/smoke dampers, and smoke dampers, along with all of your regular HVAC damper needs.

While we do not install fire dampers, you can find and contact your local fire damper representative via our local HVAC representative listing. Alternatively, feel free to Contact Lloyd Industries directly, and we will assist you.

Fire dampers, smoke dampers, and combination fire and smoke dampers are specialized HVAC dampers that were invented to prevent fire and smoke from spreading throughout buildings and causing widespread damage from the effects of fire. Without them, fire and smoke could rapidly spread through ductwork and ventilation, bringing damage to areas otherwise untouched by fire. For any questions about fire dampers or other HVAC dampers, please call Lloyd Industries, and we will happily assist you.

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