While many facility owners and managers are aware of the importance of the test, inspection, and maintenance of their life safety systems (fire alarm, sprinkler, suppression). Surprisingly, many are not aware that this also includes fire doors and fire dampers. An increasing number of fire marshals are requiring that fire doors and fire dampers be inspected. Unfortunately, more times than not the facility owner and managers are often surprised by the cost of repair since the systems have never been inspected. As with all fire and life safety systems, fire doors and fire dampers also play an instrumental role in life safety.
What do fire doors and fire dampers do exactly?
Fire doors are simply doors with a fire resistance rating that are used to reduce the speed of fire or smoke between areas to allow safe egress. Say for instance, a power failure or the fire alarm is activated then the magnet de- energizes and the door closes on its own. There are 11 steps including making certain there are no missing or broken parts, no filed modifications to the door assembly and that latching hardware operates and secure the door when it is in the closed position.
How frequently should fire doors and fire dampers be tested?
The long answer is found in NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 80, Section 188.8.131.52*through 184.108.40.206.
“Periodic inspections and testing shall be performed not less than annually. As a minimum, the provisions of 5.2.3 shall be included in the periodic inspection and testing procedure. Inspection shall include an operational test for automatic-closing doors and windows to verify that the assembly will close under fire conditions. The assembly shall be reset after a successful test. Resetting of the release mechanism shall be done in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.”
In regards to fire dampers, NFPA sections 19.1.1 through 19.6.2 provides guidance and requirements. An operational test must be completed after the installation of the fire dampers. Then, each fire damper must be tested and inspected one year after the installation. After that one year mark, fire dampers must then be tested and inspected every four years except for hospitals which have a six year frequency.