Did you know that you are responsible for testing the fire safety of the ventilation ductwork in your building by law? Fire dampers are an often overlooked part of passive fire protection in the ventilation systems of buildings. Fire dampers are fitted where ventilation ducts pass through firewalls, and they need to be maintained. During inspections, we come across a lot of faults in installation as shown in the pictures below.
Fire dampers protect the fire compartment, not the ductwork. That’s why proper installation is as important as the correct working of the fire damper. Very often a fire compartment can be compromised by ductwork installers as well as other tradesmen. Holes left in fire retardant walls after drilling, gaps and holes in insulation, cables penetrating the compartment are only a few common failures. All of this leaves free access for the fire to spread rapidly through the building.
These and other failures in installation were shown in a Channel 4 News article about fire dampers in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
Three years after the news article was published, we still come across critical errors in installation of fire dampers. Are your dampers tested? Is the installation of the dampers compliant? Are all of the fire compartments in your building protected?