Tecomak provide a comprehensive fire damper testing and maintenance service for hospitals and healthcare environments, to ensure regulatory compliance and a high standard of fire safety for patients, staff and visitors.
While the primary purpose of a hospital ductwork system is to ensure air quality and carry away harmful airborne pathogens, the ductwork also has a vital role to play in controlling the spread of fire and smoke throughout a building, should a fire occur. To prevent fire and smoke travelling between rooms or storeys of a building, fire dampers are installed at places where ductwork is required to travel through a designated fire-resistant barrier (i.e. fire-rated walls and floors/ceilings).
The Need for Fire Damper Testing & Maintenance
Fire dampers are the first line of defence against the spread of fire through ductwork. It is therefore critical to ensure that the fire damper is in perfect working order at all times, through a regime of regular fire damper testing and maintenance.
There are two ways in which a poorly maintained fire damper could fail:
Premature Activation: The damper is activated spontaneously, without the presence of fire. While this is not immediately life-threatening, it prevents the normal flow of air through the duct and reduces the effectiveness of the overall ventilation system. This can have a variety of consequences, ranging from ineffectiveness of air conditioning to the build-up of pathogens or other particles which should have been carried away. Over time, this could result in a reduction in air quality within the building which, in a healthcare environment, could have implications for patients. This risk is magnified the more fire dampers within the overall system have been prematurely activated.
Failure to Activate: The damper does not activate even in the presence of fire. In this scenario, the fire and heat are able to travel through the duct beyond the fire-resistant barrier. Depending on the heat levels, this may ignite a fire in the adjoining space, rendering the fire-resistant barrier ineffective.
This means that there is little room for error either way, so it is vital to carry out regular fire damper testing, along with regular maintenance. The British Standard 9999:2017 – Code of practice for Fire Safety in the design, management and use of buildings says that all fire dampers need to be inspected by competent persons every year. Any defects must be recorded and action taken to put them right, and certificates of testing must be issued.
Our Service to Hospitals
Tecomak can carry out fire damper installation for new builds or for older buildings at the point where ductwork is being installed or upgraded.
We can provide advice on the number and location of fire dampers required, in relation to other fire measures and other filter/ductwork measures (e.g. the presence of HEPA filters); and we can ensure that the right type of fire damper is installed.
If an older building is taken into use by a new owner, there may not be a record of where fire dampers are installed, or their status. We can carry out a fire damper inspection to locate the position of fire dampers in pre-existing ductwork and evaluate their age and suitability, carrying out replacement or repairs as necessary, to bring them into compliance.
We carry out fire damper testing at the time of installation or on an ongoing basis at regular intervals (at least every 12 months for a hospital). This includes mechanical testing of the spring-loaded mechanism to ensure that the shutter is able to move freely, and visual inspection of the release mechanism (e.g. fusible link) to check for any signs of damage (e.g. deformity, corrosion etc).
We then provide a certificate of testing to the building owner as evidence of compliance.
Maintenance, Repair and Upgrades
In addition to testing, we undertake fire damper maintenance including the replacement of components and repairs as required, including to the surrounding ductwork. Sometimes this may involve the replacement of fire damper units if the current unit is beyond serviceable age, cannot be repaired, or is the wrong type of damper for its particular location.
We schedule fire damper testing to meet specific healthcare environment regulations set out in HTM 05-02 and HTM 03-01. For healthcare environments, this means testing at least every 12 months, but this can be more frequent in areas with high levels of dust or particulates (e.g. laundry processing, or areas with frequent contact with the outside air).
As part of our service we agree an appropriate schedule with you, and ensure that visits are arranged and reminders are sent in good time to allow building owners to manage their schedules.
Hospitals will usually have many other ventilation system testing and maintenance tasks to carry out in addition to fire dampers, such as HEPA filter testing in operating theatres or pathology labs, or checking air pressure differentials in isolation rooms, for instance. Where possible we aim to dovetail our visits with other ventilation system tests for maximum efficiency and minimum disruption.
For our regular contract clients, we archive records of all tests carried out for future reference and evidence. We also keep an asset register of all fire dampers within your buildings, enabling building managers to see at a glance how many fire dampers they have and where they are located. As well as helping hospitals to easily demonstrate compliance, having these records to hand is invaluable in the event of there being building alterations or works to be carried out in the vicinity of fire dampers.
Tocontact Tecomak about testing the fire dampers in your healthcare facility please follow the link.
To find out about our other ventilation services for hospitals, including decontamination and ductwork cleaning, click here.