Tag Archive for smoke dampers

Resident Safety

UntitledWe are constantly reiterating the importance of passive fire protection inspections in healthcare facilities and universities, but it’s critical to also stress its equal significance in nursing homes and extended living facilities. With recent fire tragedies involving senior citizen care facilities, it is crucial to make sure these facilities are able to protect those who can no longer protect themselves.  Making sure all aspects your passive fire protection system, including fire and smoke dampers, fire doors, and firestop installation, are in good working condition allows you to best protect your elderly residents in the event of a fire.

If these components of your passive fire protection system are working properly, it will help to compartmentalize the fire to its area of origin. By containing the fire to one area, facility personnel and first responders can safely evacuate those residents that can’t get out by themselves. While waiting for staff or first responders to reach them, residents are able to defend in place until they are assisted out of the building.  Also, compartmentalization creates a protected means of egress for people exiting the building.

According to FEMA, in 2011 alone there were 85,400 fires in nonresidential buildings, including nursing homes. As a result of these fires there were 80 deaths, 1,100 injuries, and around 2.5 million dollars worth of damage. If your passive fire protection system isn’t properly maintained, fire and smoke can quickly spread and consume neighboring rooms or hallways in your facility. To learn how to properly maintain your passive fire protection system and prevent this tragedy from occurring in your facility, visit www.lifesafetyservices.com.

Ring in a safer 2014!

New YearsWith 2013 coming to an end, it’s time to reevaluate actions and decisions that we’re made within the past year. For the maintenance staff, the overall fire safety of your facility should be one of those evaluations. Can you look back within the year and know that your passive fire protection system was properly maintained? If your AHJ visited your facility tomorrow, would your fire and smoke dampers, fire doors, and firestop installations fall within code standards? If not, you not only run the risk of receiving a hefty fine, but most importantly the occupants of your building are not safe.

Just as a 2014 refresher, here are passive fire protection system codes that you need to be aware of:

  • Fire doors- NFPA 80 requires annual inspections of fire doors.
  • Firestopping- Several Building codes (ICC, ICBO, SBCCI, BOCA) require firestop as well as NFPA 101 and 70.
  • One Year Damper Inspections- Both NFPA 80 and 105 require fire and smoke dampers to be tested one year after installation.
  • If it’s broken or not working, fix it!- NFPA requires repairs to begin without delay in all of these instances.

Moving forward into 2014, ensure that your passive fire protection systems are working properly for the safety of your building occupants.  For more information on how to maintain these systems, visit our www.lifesafetyservices.com.

What exactly are fire dampers?

Combo Fire/Smoke Damper

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.

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