The main purpose of ventilation and ductwork systems in hospitals might be to keep air clean and remove harmful airborne particles, but these systems can also contribute to control of smoke and fire should a fire break out.
It is essential to ensure fire dampers are always in working order and the only way to do this is to follow a regular schedule of testing and maintenance. Worryingly, from our experience of working with healthcare facilities we know that rarely all requirements are met regarding testing and maintenance.
Latest guidance dictates that all healthcare buildings should have:
If dampers within hospitals have not had a regular testing and maintenance regime since installation, then they should have a full, thorough check and a regime should be put together going forward.
The two ways a fire damper could fail if poorly maintained are:
A failure to activate – when a fire breaks out fire dampers should automatically activate, otherwise fire and smoke is free to travel through the ducts, assisting the spread.
Premature activation – this is obviously less of a problem, but should a damper activate spontaneously without the presence of fire, it will prevent airflow through the duct. This can have several consequences from the ineffectiveness of air conditioning through to allowing pathogens to build up which can of course be dangerous in a healthcare setting.
Regular fire damper testing and maintenance is critical to avoid these issues and the British Standard 9999:2017 Code of Practice for Fire Safety dictates that all fire dampers should be inspected by a competent person on an annual basis. Any issues should be recorded, and correct action taken to fix them, then the certificates must be issued.
At System Hygienics we take care of all your ductwork maintenance needs including fire damper testing and maintenance, keeping you compliant with legislation. Our team are the first to become IFSM (The Institute of Fire Safety Managers) certified, meaning all our engineers are considered to be truly competent to carry out fire damper testing, giving you peace of mind your building is safe and compliant.