Fire Dampers in Care homes (importance of keeping them maintained and tested)

Looking after care home residents, keeping them safe and secure, is an imposing responsibility for Care Home management, as well as an inherently complex one. Alongside risk assessments, CRB checks and ongoing staff training, there lies a plethora of safety requirements of the care home building itself. Here, we take a look at how important a role fire damper’s play within such a setting and how proper maintenance and regular testing could well be literal life savers.

The Care Home Environment

There may be few as important an establishment to have working fire dampers than that of those within the care home environment. Such residential properties are home to individuals who are likely frail, of limited mobility and are almost certainly vulnerable.

Whilst a fire alarm subsystem serves as the first and foremost warning that care home residents would have of a fire, the task of moving residents (who may each be within their own room, such as during night times) is a monumental challenge. Not only do staff need to help residents who are likely far slower moving than they, but they may also have to provide assistance for this movement, limiting their ability to help people to the outside of the building on mass.

The risk that fire poses to those with limited mobility is then a potentially fatal one, and one that must be addresses in as much as possible. Fire dampers serve as a safety feature that may provide for the vital time that staff need to help residents to safety.

Fire dampers: A brief overview

Fire dampers are made from a robust construction that can withstand and continue to function under the most demanding of conditions, such as those presented by a fire. They are part of the ventilation system and may or may not be linked up to the fire alarm system (depending on the set-up). Typically they include a spring-loaded, swing-shut door, yet there are an array of different fire dampers to suit the specific situations within which they are placed. They may also be coupled with fans that work to draw what can be otherwise fatal smoke away from the room and through the ventilation system.

Currently fire dampers aren’t legally required, even within settings such as a care home; what is legally demanded however is that adequate provisions have been made to protect residents during such an emergency situation, for which fire dampers can play an integral role.

Fire Dampers: The importance of regular inspection

It’s clear that fire dampers can serve as a life saver for those who live within a care home setting, and as such fire dampers should be inspected, ideally, every 12 months. This process would go beyond an inspection of the fire dampers exclusively to also include the system that activates the fire dampers. This may either be a fire alarm or a dedicated sensor that continually monitors the temperature of the room.

Such an inspection would also go on to ensure that the fans that the damper works in tandem with are operating as they should.

At Ductbusters, we never underestimate the challenge that lies before care home management when it comes to a safe, secure environment for the individuals that they are responsible for. To this end we’ve also written about the importance of good ventilation within a care home and we equally look after the ducts within care home facilities, providing for consistent, reliable ventilation as well as driving down the possibility of there being a fire from blocked ducts.

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