We face many complex challenges when carrying out annual inspection and maintenance to meet fire damper requirements. The correct operation of the damper needs to be witnessed and the internal surfaces of the components should be cleaned. The cleaning is an important activity as it keeps the device as clean as possible, so that correct function and closure is possible.
The need for internal access for the cleaning and inspection requires a good free area around the damper, this will allow the testing person access. Ideally a minimum free area of approximately 600mm x 600mm directly below the damper would be kept free of all other obstructions and services to allow a technician the space to safely access the component. In many locations the dampers are obstructed by the building fabric or they are surrounded or located above other services in ceiling voids.
An access door should be fitted on either side of every fire damper, this is specified in BESA DW144 and TR19 as a requirement. Access either side of the fire damper will aid the cleaning, inspection and any future remedial works to the device. On many first-year inspections additional access doors may be required, our engineers are able to supply and fit access doors if required.
Although all fire dampers should be tested at the point of the building being commissioned and handed over, it is often the case that when the ongoing maintenance and inspections are undertaken that there are many defects identified to the dampers. We observe multiple issues during inspections with damaged or missing fire stopping to the dampers, inaccessible dampers, incorrectly fixed or supported dampers, and in a surprising number of cases dampers fitted out of alignment with the designated fire compartment wall.
The rectification of identified issues with dampers in existing buildings produces many challenges and complexities and many of these could be avoided through the correct installation and controls at the construction and design stage.