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Fire dampers, radiation dampers and smoke dampers help stop the spread of hazardous substances or conditions when a fire disaster occurs. These devices operate using many different mechanisms, each are designed to work best at stopping certain factors. No matter what type of dampers you install, however, you’ve got to be sure to follow proper procedure.
When bringing your building up to code, it’s best that you review the rules first. Otherwise, you’ll find that a large portion of your effort was wasted because you’ll have to redo things you’ve already done. Each component of a fire safety system has its own rules, and even the bits that aren’t in plain sight are important.
NFPA 90A stipulates multiple requirements for fire dampers. For instance, dampers must be installed with the correct UL-approved fusible link. Dampers in air conditioning systems must then be tested every 2 years as well as operated and maintained every 4 years. NFPA 80 states that dampers operated in conjunction with fire doors must follow a similar 4-year inspection schedule, including an inspection one year after installation. Hospitals, on the other hand, are to inspect their dampers every 6 years.
These rules also stipulate that dampers be installed in proper areas. The machinery does no good if it doesn’t keep smoke, fire and heat out of inhabited spaces, so it’s important to follow NFPA guidelines for placement.
Smoke and fire dampers are to be installed in a fashion that leaves them secured in wall openings without disrupting their operation. Separations and damper spaces must therefore be properly rated for the expansion of the dampers or for the connecting ductwork to separate in case the hanging system collapses due to heat stress.
Ceiling radiation dampers must be properly placed in the drop ceiling to minimize the transfer of radiant heat. NFPA and UL testing determine the hourly fire-resistance rating of such devices and that information lets installers know where the units must be placed.