What You Need to Know About Static Fire Dampers

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Static fire dampers

In the world of firefighting, many tools and instruments are used to fight fire once it breaks out. But what about before the fire happens? In the realm of fire protection, there are many avenues to take to prepare and secure your building or home if a fire breaks out. One of the tools at the forefront of fire protection begins when you set up your Heating, Venting, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system – the types of fire dampers you install.

What are Fire Dampers?

A fire damper is considered a passive fire protection product used in HVAC ducts to prevent the spread of fire throughout the ventilation system of either a commercial or residential building. Without the proper placement of fire dampers, a fire would have the ability to quickly sweep through the HVAC ductwork to areas other than the initial point. With the fire spreading, it would create a far greater danger to the occupants in the building and the structure itself. All types of fire dampers assist in minimizing the fire’s breadth and the extent of its damage to the building itself, the environment, and the occupants.

How Does a Fire Damper Work?

When there is a fire, the temperature in a room rises. Once it hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit, a fusible link attached to the fire damper melts, forcing the fire damper to close. Once the damper closes, it prevents the fire from progressing any further within the ductwork.

When the damper is closed, the airflow is restricted, depriving the fire of oxygen. By doing this, it helps to keep the fire contained to its original point of origin, allowing occupants of the building time to escape and firefighters an opportunity to bring the fire quickly under control.

What is a Fusible Link?

Fusible links are UL-approved, heat-detecting tools that are fastened together and utilized to hold the blades of a fire damper until a preset temperature is reached. Usually, they are set to melt, releasing the blades and closing the damper when the surrounding temperature hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit. However, in higher heat environments, such as kitchens or laundromats, they can be set to release at higher temperatures, such as 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 285 degrees Fahrenheit.

What are the Two Types of Fire Damper Construction Types

Fire dampers have two different construction types that control how the blades close once the fusible link melts. They are:

  • Curtain
  • Multi-blade

Curtain-style blades – the curtain-style blades are stacked, folded up like an accordion, and held open at the top of the damper so the airflow will be able to flow freely during regular HVAC system operation.

Multi-blade style – a multi-blade style has individual blades evenly spaced apart and connected with a common linkage that will allow the blades to rotate open or closed in unison.

What are the Types of Fire Dampers?

When it comes to fire dampers, there are a few different types. Each serves a special purpose and is better for certain building types and situations.

The four types of fire dampers are:

  • Static
  • Dynamic
  • Smoke
  • Combination

Static fire damper– a static fire damper is one that can operate with the airflow of the HVAC system turned off.

Dynamic fire damper– a dynamic fire damper is one that has the ability to operate under pressure with the HVAC fans still operating.

Smoke – a smoke damper is similar to a fire damper but works to preserve the integrity of a smoke barrier, whereas fire dampers are placed within fire barriers. A smoke barrier can be either a wall, floor, or ceiling. A smoke damper will prevent the spread of smoke through the building, allowing employees and residents time to escape the building, remain safe from smoke inhalation, and keep your property safe from smoke damage.

Combination – combination dampers combine both fire and smoke dampers. They will close automatically once extreme heat is detected. They also have their own smoke detection system, so the damper will be triggered to shut if smoke is present.

When Should You Use a Static Fire Damper?

Static fire dampers, as mentioned above, are utilized when the airflow of your HVAC system is turned off during a fire event. You should use a static fire damper when your fire barriers are horizontal. They generally come in a curtain-like design. When the fire occurs, and the fusible link melts, it is gravity that pulls the blades down now that there is no air pressure in the ducts. Once the blades fall, no air will be able to pass through the damper, and the fire will effectively be cut off. 

Do You Need to Have Static Fire Dampers Inspected?

If you are the one constructing the building, your contractor will be sure to install static fire dampers if your HVAC system requires them. Once installed, you will need to have them inspected one year later and then, according to Fire Code NFPA80, Fire-and-Smoke-Protective Curtains, every four years. The one exception to this is hospitals. They will need to have their types of fire dampers inspected every six years.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulates the installation, maintenance, and assembly of equipment used to protect openings in the floors, walls, and ceilings from the spread of smoke and fire. It also mandates the inspection of fire windows, fire doors, glass block assemblies, fabric fire safety curtains, and other passive fire protections.

If you aren’t the one constructing the building but are newly moving into it, thoroughly check the records of the prior owner. All types of fire dampers need to be inspected to make sure they fully close.

How Do They Make Sure Static Fire Dampers Are Safe?

At Lloyd Industries, we have been in the business of making static fire dampers and other types of fire dampers for over 35 years. We have documented how we test our products to show how each type of fire damper can protect your building and its inhabitants against fire, extreme heat, and smoke.

All of our static fire dampers and the other types of fire dampers that we sell are approved by Underwriters Laboratory. Underwriters Laboratory is a global certification company that is present in 46 countries. It is considered to be the industry standard when it comes to promoting secure, safe, and sustainable working and living environments. The company inspects and supports product use and production, ensuring they are physically and environmentally safe. As a result, it is able to reduce and avert the loss of life and property.

When purchasing static fire dampers, it makes sense to buy from seasoned professionals. Lloyd Industries is here to assist with any questions or concerns you might have. Looking for a contractor? Check out our vetted list of professionals in your area!

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