Yes. This Dr. Pepper was really holding this damper open.
Located in ductwork, mechanical rooms, wall chases and above drop ceilings, fire and smoke dampers are perhaps the most overlooked element of building’s passive fire protection system. These dampers, often forgot about because they aren’t easily in our line of vision, sit waiting to operate and to stop the fire and smoke from spreading through the building’s HVAC system. Unfortunately, with the exception of hospitals that have The Joint Commission mandating the inspection of dampers, many facilities do not inspect their dampers every four years as required by NFPA 80 and NFPA 105. If not properly maintained, the probability of a damper working properly in the event of a fire drops significantly. Inspection data collected across the U.S. show that on average 22% of all dampers fail during inspection*. The top reasons for failures typically revolve around the actuators or other mechanical problems such as debris blocking the blades from closing – all items that could be easily corrected if properly maintained. Top damper manufacturers Ruskin, Greenheck and Nailor recommend testing and inspection of dampers every six months. According to these manufacturers, increased testing should extend the life of the damper and lessen the need to replace the dampers thus saving money and making buildings safer at the same time.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments responded to approximately 6,260 structural fires annually from 2005-2009 in educational properties across the United States. These fires, often times intentionally set, resulted in roughly $112 million dollars in property damage. These are quite alarming figures considering that student safety is always at the forefront of school administrators and the parents minds. However, through years of gathering statistics about K-12 and college fires, the NFPA has found that millions of dollars in damage have occurred and that the educational arena in general is quite vulnerable to experiencing such loss. With these statistics in mind, it is imperative to take a step back and think about the fire protection systems in your facility. What are they and how well do you know them?
No matter what type of facility you are managing, safety is always a priority and at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. The goal is to keep in mind that many, many systems make your facility safe and were designed together to serve as an armor against impending danger. The next time you create the maintenance schedule for your facility, don’t forget about the passive fire protection system. The dampers, doors and fire rated barriers can always use some tuning up and promise to do their part if fire strikes in your facility.
To learn more about fire & smoke damper inspections and their role in your facility, click here.