The importance of having correctly installed fire dampers in hospitals

There are few environments where safety is more important than in hospitals and there are few areas of hospital safety as poorly understood as fire damper safety. Having appropriate fire dampers is of course a legal requirement, but legal requirements are not fulfilled by themselves.

Often overlooked, always crucial

Hospital Ward

It may surprise you to discover the lack of HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) designers and engineers who are themselves aware of the specific legal requirements for both fire and smoke dampers. This can especially be true when it comes to the correct types of partitions needed for each which can easily lead to designers spending valuable time and expertise crafting dampers that are too heavy duty for the task. Ensuring fire and smoke dampers are legal is a particularly laborious task for hospitals and the NHS, as it can see the loss of valuable resources that could be invested elsewhere. Of course, this is also subject to the much more severe alternative scenario, when current fire dampers are insufficient for the task.

With this in mind, what is the importance of having correct fire dampers in hospitals, and what are the benefits?

Importance of fire dampers

Fire dampers may not be the most glamorous part of fire safety, but they are one of the most crucial. If they do not have the appropriate obstacles, the ductwork and ventilation systems of any building can easily exacerbate a fire scenario by passing smoke and flames throughout the building quickly. This makes firefighting a much more difficult task, as it can spread sporadically.

This is why regulations state that fire dampers must be checked annually on spring loaded dampers and every two years on motorised dampers and immediately fixed or replaced if they are found to be at fault. The regulations are even more strict for hospitals, as they state they must be inspected annually, making it even more pertinent. Fortunately, Ductbusters are on hand to carry out this work and can easily assess the condition of your hospital’s ductwork.

It can’t be overstated how crucial these tests are. Not only do they leave any organisation legally exposed, they can contribute to a fire scenario with disastrous outcomes.

What to look out for

Hospital Ward

As with anything, fire dampers degrade over time, and when combined with poor maintenance, they can quickly stop being functional. This can be due to a whole host of technical reasons, such as jammed or corroded springs, collapsed blades, or a build-up of dust or pollution. If spotted, these issues can be rectified easily which is why it is crucial to have a company such as Ductbusters on hand.

We are also able to see if the fire dampers were installed incorrectly. We have previously seen many examples of dampers installed the wrong way around! However, perhaps the most crucial check of all is to ensure that the fusible links have not parted. As dampers are metal curtains that shut when heat or fire causes the fusible link to melt, it is vital that this aspect of the damper is fully functional.

As you can see, fire damper safety is important, and nowhere is this more pronounced than in facilities like hospitals where the staff have plenty of other things to worry about. Ductbusters accurately advise on the exact function dampers have; which ones are correct for your hospital’s ventilation system; and what needs to be looked out for during any routine inspection. We ensure that you and your organisation are fully protected and safe.

Are you legal? Contact Ductbusters for more information on fire damper safety.


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