LSS Life Safety Services® continues our commitment to quality in inspections, excellence in customer service, and industry leadership in fire and smoke damper inspection and repair by offering our services to the UK market. LSS Life Safety Services®, Ltd’s London office extends our service footprint throughout all of The United Kingdom and brings our UK customers the expertise and experience needed when managing the complexities of commercial fire protection system.
According to an article in the November 2009 issue of Fire Safety Engineering “44% of fire related deaths happen to people who were outside the room of origin of the blaze;” The article went on to cite the 1996 fire at the Düsseldorf Airport where eight people were killed in the VIP lounge after a fire ignited 700 metres from lounge spread through the ventilation ducts catching the eight individuals that perished by surprised. In this tragic event had the fire dampers worked these deaths may not have occurred.
The enactment of The Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order (RRO) came into effect in October 2006, having a huge impact on fire safety throughout Great Britain. The RRO changed who is responsible for the fire safety system; the responsibility now lies on who the RRO coins the “responsible person”. Typically that person is the employer, or the owner of the facility. The fire safety systems that must be kept in order include all active and passive fire protection systems. Included in the list of items in the passive fire protection systems are the maintenance of the fire and smoke dampers. Experience has shown that damper testing is often overlooked, either due to lack of resources, or simply due to the fact that dampers are “Out of sight, out of mind”, in the ductwork, above the ceiling – not visible on a daily basis. But as the tragedy at Düsseldorf Airport illustrated, dampers are vital to your facility’s fire safety system.
British Standards 5888 – “Fire Precautions in the design, construction and use of buildings. Managing fire safety”; states that fire dampers are located where ductwork passes through fire compartment walls and floors. Typically the fire damper is held open by a fusible link. When the fusible link is met by high heat, the link will melt, typically at 72° Celsius, thus allowing the damper to close forcefully as a result of the spring loaded tension provided by internally mounted tension-wound springs that release upon closure. Fusible links on fire dampers are designed to be manual devices and can be inspected manually. Smoke and combination smoke/fire dampers are wired directly to the alarm system and close upon the alarm’s activation and close using an electronic or pneumatic actuator and linkage mechanism.
Although the numbers of fires have been decreasing the damages and losses from the fires have become more devastating. Commercial property losses rose 15% to £865m in 2008, and £33m in schools fires. Insured losses have been on the rise since 1994 and were recorded at £1.3bn in 2008. Compounding matters, uninsured large losses (over £500,000) have also been dramatically on the rise.
Why the increase in losses due to fires? There does not appear to be one answer to that question. There does seem to be a hypothesis that is beginning to prevail, that is that fire investigations and fire systems need to be viewed as a whole rather than as individual parts. Viewing each fire safety device in isolation has created a potentially myopic view where components, such as fire and smoke dampers are often ignored. This is not to say that fire and smoke dampers are the panacea to all of the UK’s fire safety problems, what it is meant to say is that if the fire and smoke dampers are not regularly tested and maintained in your buildings and estates the risk that your fire safety system will fail in part could increase exponentially.
LSS Life Safety Services®, Ltd’S Fire and Smoke damper inspection services provide our clients with compliance with BS 5588-9:1999 Fire precautions in the design, construction and use of buildings. Code of practice for ventilation and air conditioning ductwork. The Standard states:
“All fire dampers should be tested by competent persons at regular intervals not exceeding two years”
“Spring operated fire dampers should be tested annually and fire dampers in dust laden atmospheres should be tested much more frequently to suit the degree of pollution”
With expertise in the healthcare industry, working in over 700 hospitals, LSS puts particular emphasis on providing services to our healthcare clientele and providing them with services that meet compliance with the most recent Health Technical Memorandum. These include:
Heating and ventilation systems Health Technical Memorandum 03-01: Specialised ventilation for healthcare premises Part B: Operational management and performance verification – STATES THE FOLLOWING GUIDANCE:
1.31 Regular tests, at intervals agreed with the local fire prevention officer, will need to be carried out in order to demonstrate the continuing efficiency of the fire detection and containment systems. These may be in addition to the inspections detailed above. Records of these tests should be kept.
4.13 All fire dampers should be tested as part of the annual verification.
At the conclusion of the fire and smoke damper test the client will receive at detailed report with
This report will be provided to the customer to present to insurance carriers and the client’s fire authorities as proof of compliance.
To be in compliance, and have the dampers in your facility tested by a company that inspects over 100,000 dampers every year – the true expert in the industry, contact Life Safety Services® today.
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LSS Life Safety Services® Ltd.
Chiltern Chambers, St Peters Avenue, Caversham, Reading RG4 7DH