Ventilation system maintenance specialist Swiftclean Building Services has welcomed new advice from the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) outlining additional considerations when testing and maintaining fire and smoke dampers in ductwork.
The new BESA TB/001 Technical Bulletin: Fire and Smoke Damper Maintenance guidance was co-authored by Swiftclean’s MD, Gary Nicholls. He commented: “Not enough priority has been given to the testing and maintenance of fire dampers historically.
“This has left some property managers with incomplete knowledge of the location and type of fire dampers installed in their ventilation ductwork, and in turn left them unsure how, and at what intervals, they should be maintained.
“This new guidance from BESA is extremely welcome as it outlines very clearly the different types of mechanism, and reminds building managers of the need to test all fire dampers at regular intervals and to repair any that need rectifying immediately.”
If fire dampers are in good working order, in the event of a fire, they close to form compartments within the ductwork, delaying the spread of fire through a building.
Spring-operated fire dampers require annual testing, while non spring-operated models must be tested at least every 2 years.
The new BESA bulletin explains this and outlines the testing procedure known as drop testing, emphasising the need for full reporting after testing, cleaning and repairs. BESA also makes it clear that in dust laden environments fire damper testing should be more frequent still.
It is also important that fire dampers are correctly installed and commissioned and that their locations and types are recorded in order to make it easier to test them regularly in future.
Nicholls concluded: “Essentially, access panels must also be installed in order to allow both fire damper testing and ductwork cleaning on a regular basis.
“We have become expert at retrofitting access panels, but we would rather see sufficient panels installed as part of any well-designed new ventilation system. With BESA helping to raise the profile of fire damper testing, perhaps we can look forward to a time when this will be more the norm.”