John Herboth, PE, CxA, BET-CP, EMP, Affiliated Engineers Inc presents an article with Consulting Specifying Engineer highlighting the benefits of using professionals for smoke damper investigation and repair services.
This article shares the importance of having a professional for smoke damper testing as it is often overlooked, which can lead to dangerous situations in buildings should a fire incident occur. Testing, though, is a complex process and is best left to professionals who know and understand the codes.
- Discuss changes in enforcement for different types of facilities.
- Identify best practices in setup, ongoing maintenance testing, access and record documentation.
- Discuss why damper and fire alarm relay devices need to be regularly tested.
Fire and Life Safety Insights
- Smoke damper testing in buildings can get overlooked, which leads to products that are defective and/or performing well below their capabilities.
- The process for smoke damper testing is complex and should only be handled by experienced professionals who are familiar with dampers and the codes behind them.
There are many different types of dampers, components, and purposes for fire life safety dampers. Everything from the standard setup for a fire smoke damper that is clearly labeled, color-coded, and can be tested and serviced easily, to the opposite.
In most cases, especially in buildings where dampers have not ever received periodic testing ever, which is the most likely case, testers can run into a gauntlet of issues from bad installation practices, outdated components, unknown directly replaceable products, defeated devices/components, terrible access to inaccessible dampers and high failures rates of damper assemblies or motors in the 25 to 50% range.
If the locations and quantity of dampers in a facility are unknown, it is likely there are many dampers that will not operate as intended if there is a fire or smoke event. The different types of dampers serve as vital components to help compartmentalize fire, heat and smoke so a building’s occupants have time to evacuate a building. The continuity of the fire and smoke rated barriers relies on damper components and assemblies doing their job, if there is a weak point, it will be exploited. Damper motors fail consistently. Given enough time, the fire damper function was not checked by the installer and fire damper relays can be wired incorrectly.