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  • Fire Damper Maintenance could save lives

    Fire damper maintenance is not something the average office or factory worker would ever notice, but they could potentially save a life. Over the last few years maintaining fire dampers has become one of the very common roles the Kimpton Maintenance Division perform. It’s easy to overlook but for us, is a vital task. 

    What is a fire damper?

    Almost any large office building with ventilation will have ducting, often hidden behind false ceilings. It’s very efficient for moving air around, but equally, every bit as efficient at moving smoke and fire too. Whether it’s between walls, floors or even neighbouring buildings, fire will travel, so there needs to be a system to stop this.

    One simple looking, but vitally important component in fire prevention is called a fire damper. Fire dampers are passive fire protection components used extensively within heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts to prevent the spread of fire throughout a building.

    When a fire starts, there will be a rise in the ambient room temperature and as heat rises, it will begin to transfer heat into the ducting system, normally housed in the ceiling. This rise in temperature, activates a thermal element which melts at temperatures that are higher than the hottest ambient temperature, but low enough to indicate there is excess heat in the system. (Normally around 75 degrees celsius).

    During Fire damper maintenance we would open a fire damper to the open position, you can see the temperature sensitive element

    A fire damper in the open position – You can see the temperature sensitive element circled here in red.

     

    The breaking of the element closes the damper blades – like a metal curtain or drop down shutters – within the ducting and prevents fire from travelling into the neighbouring workspace. It contains the fire within the space it starts in and allows people who may be close to the fire to safely evacuate.

    Fire damper maintenance tests a fire damper in a closed position

    A fire damper in a closed position during testing

     

    Fire dampers can also close following an electrical signal from a fire alarm system which uses detectors away from the damper, that indicate heat or smoke in the buildings occupied spaces or in the HVAC duct system.

    Fire damper maintenance 

    Fire damper maintenance is both a legal requirement and a critical part of building fire safety management. Compliance to current regulations means these fire dampers must form part of a planned preventative maintenance regime where spring operated fire dampers should be tested annually and be repaired or replaced immediately if found to be defective.

    What can go wrong?

    As the damper is held open with a small and slightly delicate component, these can break or be activated accidentally. If this happens, conditioned air from the ventilation system cannot flow and offices can overheat. It’s because of this that people sometimes take matters into their own hands.

    At Kimptons, we have been providing a qualifying inspection service for a number of years. Recently, during an inspection on one of our new clients’ site, we discovered one fire damper that we presumed to have been accidentally deployed. This had then been wedged open with a piece of wood. There were a number of others within the same site that had been left with their transit straps still in position. This meant the damper was permanently jammed open.

    Fire damper maintenance prevents dampers being jammed open with wooden stick

    Fire damper jammed open with wooden stick

    What happens if the fire damper triggers when it is jammed open with a stick? This video (at 25 seconds) shows you that even if it is activated, it will not protect you from fire or smoke.

     

    This can have deadly consequences if a fire starts as the system will not operate and lives will be at risk. Fire damper maintenance is therefore essential and a legal requirement. 

    As a manager of any non-domestic building you must constantly evaluate the risks associated with fire and take general fire precautions. Our team are increasingly being asked to deliver planned and preventative maintenance for fire damper systems. It’s an easy job to overlook, but one that lives depend on.

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    What our customers say

    • Kimpton Energy Solutions have provided a reliable and helpful service at Dover and Philharmonic Court since they were opened in 2014 /15. A good working relationship is maintained with the service engineers and having a key account manager who is responsive and maintains regular communication has been a key factor in service provision.Having a…

    • Kimptons provided a ‘planned maintenance schedule’ to suit our academic year requirements and maintained the dates set out. Their engineers were always well presented and aware of how to conduct themselves within our environment. They were all trained and knowledgeable on the various items of equipment they came to work on. Mr Mike Pickles,…

    • We are happy with the service Kimptons have provided over the years. Their engineers are local and have great knowledge of our systems. We have built up an excellent working relationship with service engineers along with their office staff. Mr Kevin Foy, Notre Dame College

    • The Kimpton engineers on site are always accommodating to requests from the estates team with regards to heating, ventilation and air conditioning issues. The planned maintenance schedule has developed over the years and works well throughout the year. Having a key account manager who attends site on a weekly basis provides an excellent line…

    • The installation will improve the comfort conditions in several areas of the school servicing both pupils and staff. We are very experienced in undertaking projects in these conditions were flexibility and careful scheduling is key and this was crucial to our appointment on this contract.

    • We have been using TKR Services since their inception and during that time they proved to be not only commercially competitive, but also, looking from an Engineers point of view they have strived to provide the highest quality work.

    • The Plaza is a showpiece building for Bruntwood in Liverpool and we have since made it our own headquarters in the city. To reflect this, we needed to ensure that the fit out was of the highest quality, whilst maintaining the high levels of service our tenants expect from Bruntwood.