Remote Testing of Fire Smoke Dampers in Hospitals

To lessen the risk of infections and to reduce staff costs, health care facilities are urged to place fire/smoke dampers in locations that allow for easy staff access and to opt for equipment facilitating the remote testing of dampers. Dampers which use electric actuators with position indication offer the ability to monitor and test the damper remotely. This reduces the need to physically gain access to the damper after the original inspection. Remote testing and monitoring can save on labour cost, reduce the likelihood of infection and ensure that critical life safety devices work when required.

Conducting manual damper inspections in a health care facility is no small task.  Facility managers may need to cordon off their work area to control the spread of particles, and may need to use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to catch any particulates set into motion in the process of gaining access to the damper above the ceiling. In areas dealing with airborne infections, the team may also have to schedule the shutdown of air handling plant so as not to affect pressure differentials between spaces.

All critical lifesaving systems should be maintained and tested routinely. It is far easier to perform periodic testing of motorised fire/smoke damper system with a control panel than it is to access and test fusible link / manual fire dampers. Replacing fusible links can be very difficult when dampers are located in hard-to reach areas, thus compounding time and costs.


Remote Monitoring and Testing approaches

Remote testing and monitoring can be accomplished using a dedicated damper control panel.  All of the fire/smoke dampers are wired to this panel. The system monitors and commands particular dampers to open or close in affected zones during a fire. The  system quickly and effectively interfaces directly with the building's fire alarm systems and Building Management System. This control system can facilitate damper monitoring, alarm generation, periodic testing sequences, fault logging and automatic report generation. Testing requirements are programmed in line with the local jurisdiction requirements and best practice. This helps the building owner document that the fire life safety system has been tested. Many damper control systems also have the capacity to offer environmental controls (e.g. turning down an Air Handling Unit in response to a closed dampers). 

Depending on the size and specification of the project, the damper control system can be either hardwired (Electro-Mechanical) or fully addressable. Some facilities may also require a firefighter’s smoke control override panel positioned in the entryway to the building.

With addressable systems a graphic user interface can facilitate the identification and location of the dampers in the system and their current status, as seen in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The screenshot shows the dampers in the system and the icon indicates status. Information on each damper, damper group and event logs are displayed.

Figure 1. The screenshot shows the dampers in the system and the icon indicates status. Information on each damper, damper group and event logs are displayed.

Safegard Systems design and supply systems to protect healthcare buildings and their occupants in the event of fire. Solutions are designed and supplied with the user in mind, providing innovative approaches that offer simple means of installation, operation and maintenance.