Fire safety is a vital consideration for every building – whether commercial or residential. However, the importance of following clear fire safety regulations becomes even more essential when you are in an office building. Here, we explore why it is so necessary to practise good fire safety overall, and how fire damper testing plays a central role in this. We will also take a closer look at how Ventilation Surveys & Services (VSS) can help you to improve your fire safety.
Why is fire safety important?
With government guidance laying out the essentials; of fire safety, it is good to know why this matters so much. Especially in office or commercial spaces, there are many different ways for a fire to start and spread. There is usually a large amount of electrical equipment which could become faulty, paperwork and wooden furniture that may act as conductors of fire, and a poor understanding of how to practise good fire safety procedures. Fire safety is important as it provides training for employees to understand how to create a safer environment and reduce the likelihood of fires, which means a lower chance of harm to property and people. Another part of fire safety is ensuring that all the correct equipment is available and functional in case of fire, meaning the impact is less severe. Finally, excellent fire safety allows an office building to comply with regulations and legislation that can prevent fines or legal action.
What is a fire damper?
One of the best forms of passive fire protection is a fire damper. Passive fire protection is a way of keeping your office safe in case of fire without actively needing to engage with the product. A fire damper can be used in your ductwork, and if a fire breaks out, it will delay how quickly the fire is able to spread. The fire dampers “drop” down and essentially block the path of the smoke and flame. This is a highly important part of allowing a safe evacuation to take place. Without fire dampers, fires are able to spread much more quickly, creating a less safe environment for anyone inside the building and leading to the fire becoming hard to control.
What is fire damper testing?
While fire dampers are a passive safety product, that does not mean that you never need to check them. Fire damper testing is designed to check that fire dampers are being maintained and working so that they won’t let you down in case of an emergency. A qualified professional can test your fire dampers by assessing where they are, checking them for signs of damage, and challenging them to test their functionality. Fire dampers can also be cleaned and reset so that you have full knowledge of their condition, location, and any next steps you need to take when it comes to replacing or repairing them.
How often should fire damper testing be carried out?
Fire damper testing should be regularly carried out as a matter of course, but it is worth noting that this is also required by law. ALL fire dampers MUST be checked EVERY YEAR to make sure that you are complying with government guidance and providing the safest possible working environment. This can also help you to catch any problems with your fire dampers, allowing for repairs to take place instead of expensive and challenging replacements.
Why is fire damper testing essential?
You may not think that fire dampers need to be tested so regularly, especially as they are rarely utilised with proper fire safety. However, it is still important to keep up with yearly fire damper checks and maintenance.
Fire dampers can fail for many reasons, even without being used. They can become corroded or damaged over time, or may have been poorly or improperly installed initially. Parts such as springs can break down, or you may find that your ductwork and ventilation systems are blocked or dirty.
It is especially common for blockages such as dirt and debris to be an issue for fire dampers, as they are kept open and vulnerable except in cases of fire. This kind of build-up can prove deadly when fire dampers must work. Any one of these situations can cause a fire damper to fail, which is extremely dangerous. You will also be breaking The Law resulting in huge fines and imprisonment. The best way to avoid this, and other ill effects, is to schedule your fire damper testing annually with a reputable company.
Fire damper testing and health
Without regular fire damper testing, the spread of fire is harmful to employee health, even if an evacuation is fast and successful. Since smoke/fire dampers also stem the spread of smoke, they reduce smoke inhalation. This can mean that fewer employees suffer from long-term health implications that could create further consequences both for the individual and the company.
Fire damper testing with VSS
If you are regularly checking your fire alarms, extinguishers, and more, then don’t forget to keep up with your fire damper testing. VSS can help you to ensure fire dampers are always in good working order and advise you on how to repair or replace any faulty or damaged fire dampers.
Get in touch to discuss our fire damper inspections and services to find out more about how we can help you create a safe and healthy working environment for everyone.