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Fire Compartmentation is integrated into buildings to ensure that fires do not spread. These compartments are formed by fire resisting walls rising unbroken to the structural soffit and are fitted with fire doors. Where mechanical ventilation is installed in a building any air handling ductwork passing through these compartment walls must be fitted with either fire or smoke dampers to ensure that fire and smoke is stopped at the compartment wall and does not pass along the ducts into the adjacent compartment.

Most people are aware of the importance of maintaining fire alarms, extinguishers and sprinklers but there is generally much less awareness of the need to maintain equipment that contains smoke or fire. Bearing in mind that the reason that ductwork is installed in the first place is to distribute air efficiently throughout a building, any ductwork not fitted with dampers or which have dampers that are ceased or poorly functioning will also efficiently distribute smoke or flame throughout a building in the event of a fire. Be aware that fire will break out of most ductwork in just a few minutes because it is not fire rated.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires fire and smoke dampers to be ”in an efficient state of repair and in efficient working order”. Unfortunately many organisations not only do not regularly maintain their installed dampers, they don’t even know where they are!

Dampers should be serviced annually with ‘fusible links’ being changed every 2 years. The British Standard requires all maintenance to be ‘hands on’ and not just a visual inspection. Maintenance should include physical cleaning together with lubrication to ensure that the dampers will close fully when activated.

Dampers are found in: Hospitals, Schools, Colleges, Universities, Public Buildings, Residential Blocks, Offices, Industrial Buildings, Power Generating Plant etc. in fact almost any large building.

Oakleaf offer a full survey to locate all fire and smoke dampers. Existing dampers are identified and referenced onto a database with the locations being recorded on CAD plans. This enables the building manager to arrange regular maintenance of all installed dampers and to effectively manage them on an ongoing basis.

Oakleaf will also identify any ducts passing through compartment or sub-compartment walls where dampers should be installed to contain the spread of fire or smoke but have not been. Again these are listed on a data base and referenced back to CAD plans to enable a contract to be let for their installation.

What’s included & why it’s important?

  • All fire and smoke dampers recorded on database
  • All fire and smoke dampers locations identified on CAD plans
  • All missing ducts without dampers passing through compartment walls identified on CAD plans
  • Ensure that all dampers are properly maintained
  • Ensure that smoke and fire will be effectively contained and not spread to adjacent safe compartments
  • Ensure that people can escape safely in the event of a fire
  • Protect business continuity/production by ensuring that any fires are contained

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