Remote testing: the future for fire dampers?

Combination fire/smoke dampers use an electric actuator and an optional position-indicating device (control panel) which means each damper in a building can be monitored, controlled and tested from a remote location. Is this nature of testing dampers the future for dampers?

What is the function of fire/smoke dampers?

Combination fire/smoke dampers, like the Actionair SmokeShield PTC™, prevent the spread of flames and smoke through a building during a fire. They function like the traditional fire damper in that they close automatically upon detecting heat and can also be controlled by fire alarm systems. Smoke is a bigger killer than fire and so to prevent the spread of these deadly gasses around a building requires the installation of a fire/smoke damper.

Technology improves testing

A control panel is usually installed in the building in an easily accessible location, often in the entrance/reception area. The damper’s information can also be accessed via a position-indicating application on a smartphone or tablet. This reduces the need to physically access the damper after it has been installed to understand the status and working condition of the damper.

Technology simplifies the inspection process as it allows the ability to perform more regular checks on fire safety systems as the mechanical position and status-indicating devices reduce both time, labour and costs involved in conducting a test. A graphic user interface can identify and locate the dampers in the system and provide an update on their current status, in addition to generating automatic reports to document that dampers have passed tests.

Lifetime cost

It is much easier and cheaper to perform regular testing of a fire/smoke damper with an actuator than it is to replace fusible links. Replacing fusible links can be even more difficult when dampers are located in hard-to-reach areas of a building.

Therefore, whilst the initial costs of choosing fire/smoke dampers with a remote monitoring system may be much higher than standard fire dampers, the cost of maintenance and testing following this is kept at a minimum. Remotely monitoring and testing a damper provides reliable results and saves a facility many costs.

Due to the benefits, remote monitoring systems to control fire/smoke dampers are excellent choices for schools, hospitals and high-rise buildings. They provide a solution that addresses the need to reduce disruption to occupants, decrease control and maintenance costs, and ultimately protect the building occupants’ overall safety. A well-planned building management system should include a mixture of fire/smoke dampers and other fire safety equipment to protect the building and its occupants.