December 22nd, 2008
Life Safety Services Makes International Presentation on Fire and Smoke Damper Inspections
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (December 22, 2008) –Life Safety Services (LSS) announced today that they were formally asked to visit Dubai in November to speak on the subject of fire and smoke damper inspections to the government of the U.A.E. Life Safety Services also offered the government assistance in writing specifications for one of the fastest growing cities in the world.
Working in conjunction with NAFFCO, one of the leading Fire Protection Companies in Central and South Asia, Life Safety Services presented to the Civil Defense Authority, which is the governing body over building codes and regulations in Dubai and the entire country. “This was extremely exciting for us because the growth that has occurred in Dubai in recent years is just phenomenal”, said Craig Rutledge, owner of Life Safety Services. “As they are growing the government is being proactive to put codes into place and get everything up to date. We provided them with the information they needed to create specifications on damper inspections and to have them implemented.”
Dubai currently has approximately 40 million square feet of office space under construction and is home to both the tallest building and largest mall in the world, as well as the world’s only 7-star hotel. “Our company having the opportunity to play a role in the development of the fire safety planning of a country growing so rapidly speaks to our continued efforts to solidify our role as the national and international leader and expert in fire and smoke damper inspections.” states Rutledge.
In conjunction with the presentation, Life Safety Service also met with, NAFFCO to discuss partnership opportunities. “This partnership is a great opportunity for Life Safety Services.”, said Rutledge, owner of Life Safety Services. “We are extremely proud to be working in concert with a company like NAFFCO to grow the Life Safety Services brand internationally.”
In 2004 Craig Rutledge and Jack Meredith saw an opportunity to put their expertise in the fire and smoke damper inspection business to work by forming Life Safety Services (LSS). By specializing in fire and smoke damper inspections, LSS provides inspection services to facilities at an affordable price. Life Safety Services is has become one of the top fire and smoke damper inspection companies by providing outstanding customer service and maintaining a staff of highly trained project managers and technicians. For more information visit: www.lifesafetyservices.com
December 11th, 2008
There is no doubt that the way we looked at the world on September 10, 2001 was changed dramatically with the events of the following day. September 11th changed the way we view national security, global politics, and travel. For those of us in fire safety, facilities management, and code enforcement, it triggered a paradigm sift that effects everything we do today in our daily operations.
As a company that focuses on fire and smoke damper inspections in commercial facilities throughout the United States, our role has evolved into more than just fire safety, and compliance. Our responsibility has expanded into providing an additional barrier in the event of a terrorist attack.
The attack at the World Trade Center in New York City brought into focus the importance of operable fire and smoke dampers in the event of a terrorist attack. Nearly 3,000 civilians and firefighters lost their lives when both towers became engulfed in smoke and flames. The United States Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology investigated the World Trade Center disaster and found that had there been operable fire and smoke dampers in the two towers, they “would have acted to slow the development of hazardous conditions on the uppermost floors of the building” in tower one and two, and as a result provided occupants more time to flee the building. Those findings alone exemplify the need for working dampers.
One of the most efficient ways for smoke, fire, or an aerosolized biological agent to travel throughout a building is through the HVAC System. With this knowledge in hand many organizations have addressed the importance of working dampers in their terrorist prevention planning guidelines.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in their publication “Protecting Building Environments from Airborne Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Attacks” states “While it is important to understand how the existing building systems function, the systems need to operate per building design.” The CDC goes on to provide a list of items to be considered in this evaluation/walk-thru of a building. The list includes items such as filtration, condition of the ductwork, and whether all dampers (including fire and smoke) are functioning, and to check the dampers for “how well they seal when closed”. The manual also notes that the responsiveness of the dampers in the event of a CBR (chemical, biological, radiological) attack is crucial.
Other groups such as the International Facility Managers Association (IFMA) in their “Addressing the Threat of Terrorism: Guidelines for Prevention and Response” discuss the high likelihood of a fire during a terrorist attack and specifically address the importance of proper installation and regular maintenance of fire and smoke dampers to help combat this threat.
In the July 2004 issue of Heating/Piping/Air Conditioning Engineering, Larry Felker wrote and article titled “Smoke-Control Systems and Homeland Security.” The article’s first line is “A building’s existing damper system can offer much in terms of protection in the event of an airborne chemical, biological, or radiological attack-or an accident that releases harmful airborne contaminants to the indoor environment.”
More groups have addressed the importance of operable fire and smoke dampers in the event of a CBR attack. However, the point is clear, that while fire and smoke dampers are only one component needed to protect building occupants during a terrorist attack – they are an extremely vital component. The question that now presents itself is “How do I maintain everything that I need to with limited time and limited staffing?”
Facility management staffs are spread so thin, that performing the needed maintenance is often impossible, particularly to do a detailed inspection. While some are fortunate to have adequate staffing, that is more the exception than the rule. Often times a contractor must step in to assist the facility’s staff, and provide the detailed inspection that is needed when dealing with life safety measures. Contractors can also provide third-party certification, something becoming more and more important to organizations from a liability standpoint.
We often hear our government officials state, and correctly so, that in the battle against terrorism that you have to be right 100% of the time. Just that one percent failure rate could be devastating. Our records indicate that the failure rate of dampers is approximately ten-percent. Even one failed damper can have serious consequences.
Is that one failed damper in an area where large groups of people congregate, such as a cafeteria during lunch hour? Is that failed damper positioned between floors, and in turn allows the contaminant to spread to additional floors where it could affect countless other people? Is that failed damper outside your office?
During the almost doomed Apollo 13 mission, lead flight director for Mission Control Gene Kranz, said to the ground crew at Houston’s Mission Control, “Failure is not an option.” The same holds true for those of us in the fire protection and building management field, when it comes to the safety of building occupants – “Failure is not an option.”
Craig Rutledge, is a partner of Life Safety Services, LLC (www.lifesafetyservices.com ), which specializes in the inspection of Fire and Smoke Dampers at facilities throughout the United States. Life Safety Services is a member of the NFPA, ASHE, IAQA, and NADCA. Rutledge is a Certified Indoor Environmentalist, NADCA Certified “Air Systems Cleaning Specialist”, and Certified Mold Remediator.” He can be reached at 1-888-675-4519, or by e-mail, email@example.com.
December 11th, 2008
Keeping buildings safe from the threat of fire is a responsibility we all share as fire code inspectors, fire and smoke damper inspectors, building owners, and facility managers. Our overriding goal should be the prevention of such horrific tragedies as the deadly fires at the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas in 1980, and the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and casino in 1981, where nearly 800 people were injured, and 85 were killed. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) stated in it’s report on the fire at the MGM Hotel that fire dampers “…did not completely close” and that as a result, “…products of combustion were distributed throughout the HVAC equipment … providing a method for the spread of smoke that may also have contributed to several fatalities.”
Another more recent tragedy is that of the World Trade Center in New York City where nearly 3,000 civilians and firefighters lost their lives when both towers became engulfed in smoke and flames. The United States Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology investigated the World Trade Center disaster and found that had there been operable fire and smoke dampers in the two towers, they “would have acted to slow the development of hazardous conditions on the uppermost floors of the building” in tower one and two, and as a result provided occupants more time to flee the building.
These are just a few examples of how tragic and devastating a large scale fire can be. Fires occur every day in the United States – fires that in some cases could be prevented, or at the very least lessened by properly working dampers.
Unfortunately, for the exception of hospitals that have the inspection of fire and smoke dampers enforced by groups such as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), many facilities do not inspect their dampers every four years as required by NFPA 90A. The reasons for this vary, but most often it is due to a lack of manpower in the building’s facilities management department. But for those of us in the business of fire prevention, we need to ask ourselves if this is in the best interest of safety.
Less frequent testing of dampers (or in some cases never testing them at all) will most certainly lead to higher failure rates, putting buildings in greater risk of extensive damage and potential loss of life should a fire occur.
Life Safety Services inspects more than 150 hospitals and other facilities a year and sees an approximate failure rate of 10% in dampers – and these are dampers that are inspected and maintained on a regular basis. If inspected less frequently, we are likely to see this rate increase. Even the top damper manufacturers, Ruskin, Greenheck and Nailor recommend testing and inspection of dampers every six months. According to these manufacturers, increased testing should extend the life of the damper and lessen the need to replace the dampers thus saving money and making buildings safer at the same time.
There are a number of reasons we should be working to maintain and even strengthen the current codes and standards used to inspect the fire dampers at facilities.
There is no question that properly installed, inspected and maintained fire dampers will save lives and money. If, as fire prevention personnel, we allow codes to be loosened, we will surely see the effects in a rise in fatalities and costs associated with building fires. The prevention of large scale fires is the only way to ensure the safety of those who live, work, heal and play in these facilities.
Craig Rutledge, is a partner of Life Safety Services, LLC, which specializes in the inspection of Fire and Smoke Dampers at facilities throughout the United States. Life Safety Services is a member of the NFPA, ASHE, IAQA, and NADCA. Rutledge is a Certified Indoor Environmentalist, NADCA Certified “Air Systems Cleaning Specialist”, and Certified Mold Remediator.” He can be reached at 1-888-675-4519, or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
December 11th, 2008
By Craig Rutledge
Resources – there never seems to be enough of them. Financial resources, human resources, information resources, and we all lack the valuable resource of more time. Regardless of what industry you are in, the lack of resources is a challenge, especially for those in the facilities management profession. Let’s not forget that dealing with a myriad of daily issues and keeping tenants with different needs and personalities happy is a job in itself. Add to that the wealth of knowledge that’s required to do the job effectively it can be, I’m quite sure, nothing short of overwhelming. From HVAC Systems and Plumbing to Fire Safety and Security the range of education involved to do this job is phenomenal. My background is in fire safety and I know that the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Life Safety Code is over one thousand pages alone. I have always marveled at how much information a facility manager has to know to do his or her job.
With that said, one can see how I am not totally surprised to see how many facilities are not in compliance with NFPA’s Life Safety Code. Currently NFPA requires all non-healthcare facilities to have their Fire and Smoke dampers inspected every four (4) years and to verify that they are operational. What I have found is that those facilities that are not in compliance with this code typically fall into two categories: those who know the code exists but lack the resources to complete the inspections, and those who didn’t even know that NFPA requires the inspection of dampers.
I have found that for those who didn’t know about the code, there is certainly no cavalier attitude about having their dampers tested. Facilities Managers take being in compliance very seriously and are concerned that they were not aware of the existence of the code. However, as previously addressed, with the mountains of information that these individuals must retain in order to sufficiently perform their jobs duties, it’s understandable that one of the codes can slip through the cracks. Armed with the knowledge that all dampers need to be inspected as mandated by the NFPA, these individuals tend to move quickly towards compliance. After all, they know that safety is paramount and that keeping their building in compliance is part of their job.
The real issue here lies with those individuals who know about the code’s existence but simply lack the resources to complete the inspection, both in time and money. Facilities are perpetually running on a thin staff with widening demands and by adding the inspections to their work load it is close to impossible to find the time to complete the inspections thoroughly. Damper inspections are indeed labor intensive and not an easy undertaking when attention needs to be directed towards more time sensitive tasks such as HVAC or plumbing repairs. The answer here may be to search out a contractor that specializes in fire and smoke damper inspections to ease the burden on your staff and to ensure a quality final product.
The code to inspect the dampers was initially put into place because of the fires that occurred in Las Vegas hotels that led to over 80 fatalities. This number could have been substantially less had there been operable fire and smoke dampers. The United States Government also commissioned a study on the World Trade Center disaster and found that had the twin towers had more working smoke dampers the fumes that spread through the building would have been slowed down and possibly allowed for more people to escape that tragic day. In the wake of September 11th terrorism is certainly on the minds of today’s facilities manager and we should all be prepared. The dampers in your facility are there for a reason and ultimately the NFPA, ICC, and more and more insurance companies are requiring that you have proof that your dampers are inspected periodically to ensure that they are working properly.
While the inspection of Fire and Smoke Damper may be a cumbersome task for the facility’s staff, the act is far from an exercise in futility. Like all requirements in NFPA’s Life Safety Code it is there for a reason – not simply to be done so you can say “you are in compliance”, although that is one reason, but more importantly to minimize the risk from fire and ultimately product the individuals in your building that you are largely tasks to protect as a facility manager and security manager. So don’t let resources, or a lack thereof stand in the way of saving lives – inspect your fire and smoke dampers.
There is a quick lesson to be learned when it comes to compliancy in your building. The bottom line is that Fire and Smoke Dampers are as important as any other fire suppression device you put in your building. The goal here would be to understand the true meaning of NFPA’s Life Safety Code. These inspections are not to be completed simply because of “code” –their purpose is to minimize the danger to life from fire. Don’t let resources, or the lack there of, stand in the way of saving lives.
Craig Rutledge, is a partner of Life Safety Services, LLC, which specializes in the inspection of Fire and Smoke Dampers at facilities throughout the United States. Life Safety Services is a member of the NFPA, ASHE, IAQA, BOMA, and IFMA. Rutledge is a Certified Indoor Environmentalist, NADCA Certified “Air Systems Cleaning Specialist”, and Certified Mold Remediator.” He can be reached at 1-888-675-4519, or by e-mail, email@example.com
December 11th, 2008
Life Safety Services Compliments Damper Inspection Services with Damper Repairs
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (December 11, 2008) – Life Safety Services (LSS), the National leader in fire and smoke damper inspection services, announced today that they will provide damper repair services as a compliment to their fire and smoke damper inspection services.
According to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Life Safety Code®, if the damper is deemed inoperable through mandatory inspection, repairs should begin as soon as possible. To better accommodate their clients’ needs and to ensure compliancy with the code, LSS will offer actuator replacement and retrofit of both electric and pneumatic actuators along with the ability to make adjustments to dampers such as correcting linkages, bindings, tracks and tabs.
“Year after year we’ve had such a call for this service from our existing clients who have been unable to find service providers who can perform quality repairs”, said Craig Rutledge, owner of Life Safety Services. “The ability to have one contractor who can specialize in the repair and the inspection of fire and smoke dampers in one service will offer great value to our customers.”
Life Safety Service’s technicians are extremely familiar with the mechanics of fire and smoke dampers based on their experience through inspection. To further enhance this knowledge, their techs went through extensive in-house training as well as damper actuator repair training through major manufacturers, such as Belimo and Lloyds. “Few companies can bring to the client the mix of training and field experience that Life Safety Services can offer”, said Rutledge.
In 2004 Craig Rutledge and Jack Meredith saw an opportunity to put their expertise in the fire and smoke damper inspection business to work by forming LSS. By specializing in fire and smoke damper inspections, LSS provides inspection services to facilities at an affordable price. Life Safety Services is has become one of the top fire and smoke damper inspection companies by providing outstanding customer service and maintaining a staff of highly trained project managers and technicians. For more information visit: www.lifesafetyservices.com