What are fire dampers and why would your building need them?
To get started, let’s first explore exactly what a damper is, why dampers are important and how they help keep buildings and people safe.
- A damper (in simplified HVAC terms) is a device which permits the flow of air when open and restricts the passage of air when closed.
- A Fire damper is a device that permits the flow of air when open, restricts the passage of air and prevents the passage of fire when closed.
- A smoke and fire damper is a device that permits the flow of air when open, restricts the passage of air and prevents the passage of smoke and fire when closed.
Fire dampers contain a fire to a single compartment and prevent it from spreading through ducts or other openings. In order to achieve their function, all fire dampers should fail in the closed position and there are generally two ways in which this is achieved; they are either motorised with motor open/spring closed operation or they are held open by a mechanical or electromechanical device and spring closed.
All fire and smoke and fire dampers require a thermal device as a final failsafe, so that when the temperature exceeds the operational limit, the damper closes. Only motorised dampers are easily tested and then reset open remotely but confirming that they have operated is often difficult as they are usually hidden away in ducting above ceilings and in walls. Mechanical dampers that rely on a thermal fuse and electromechanical dampers need manual intervention to reset them after operation which makes testing and verification of operation considerably more difficult.
Smoke and fire dampers play and extremely important role in fire safety systems as they are designed to stop the spread of fire and smoke throughout a building via the duct system. Successful compartmentation of the smoke and fire will result in the blaze being easier to put out, as well as helping to keep escape routes clear, keeping air in the building fresher for longer and minimising any potential damage to property.