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Fire Dampers

A fresh look at ventilation maintenance

By | Ductwork Cleaning, Fire Dampers, Kitchen Extract Cleaning, News, Swiftclean | No Comments

Air quality within social housing is an increasingly important issue; fire safety even more so.  Adequately cleaning and maintaining the ventilation system in multiple occupancy buildings is essential for legal compliance, and for ensuring the health and safety of the property, as Gary Nicholls, Managing Director of Swiftclean Building Services, explains.

 

Multiple occupancy poses a potential for fire to spread from home to home, yet although multiple occupancy housing has been with us for well over a century, it is only for just over a decade that we have had fire legislation for this type of housing, thanks to the passing of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which came into force in October 2006.

 

Within multiple occupancy buildings, much care has been given to ensuring that each dwelling is effectively a separate compartment, so that the risk of fire spreading from one to another is greatly reduced.  Sharing ventilation and extract ductwork for kitchens and bathrooms, however, means that a potential route for fire is re-introduced, leading from one apartment to another, or from the apartment to the building’s communal areas.  Communal ductwork represents a potential weakness in terms of the spread of fire and also a possible cause of widespread poor air quality.

 

In order to restore some of this compartmentation when needed, fire dampers can be installed in the ductwork at the point where ductwork passes through a fire resistance-rated wall.  These are essentially a set of steel louvres which remain open to allow free air flow under normal conditions, but which are triggered by sensors to close automatically in the event of fire.  The closed louvres form a barrier to the spread of flames and hot gases, this barrier helps to delay the spread of fire from its point of origin to other parts of the property.

 

Where fire dampers are fitted, they must be tested and cleaned on an annual basis in accordance with British Standard BS:9999 2017, using a method called drop testing, which confirms that the louvres close effectively.  It used to be the case that the frequency of testing depended on the construction of the fire damper, but the 2017 revision to BS:9999 made it mandatory for annual drop testing, cleaning and any necessary repairs for every type of fire damper.

 

Kitchen extract fire safety cleaning should also be a priority. It is an inevitable result of everyday cooking, that deposits of fat, oil and grease build up as a thin film of grease throughout the kitchen extract ductwork.  These deposits represent a very real fire risk and must be removed on a regular basis.  The frequency of cleaning is laid out in tables within TR/19, which is the leading guidance document for ventilation ductwork cleaning, issued by BESA (Building & Engineering Services Association.)  This also requires ductwork to be classified as high, medium or low.  Multiple occupancy shared kitchen extracts will carry a high classification, requiring regular thorough cleaning in accordance with TR/19.

 

In some multiple occupancy buildings, the ground floor is given to retail units; often fast food outlets.  In these units, kitchen extract fire safety cleaning must be completed regularly in compliance with TR/19, in order to reduce the risk of the spread of fire to the floors above.

 

In refurbishments, especially kitchen and bathroom replacement programmes, consideration should be given to updating the ventilation systems as well as the units and sanitary ware.  It should be remembered that a clogged or greasy extract fan will also consume more electricity to run than a clean one, so this should be included in energy saving plans.  Where a common warm air system serves the entire building, it should be replaced, where possible, by individual self-contained heating systems, so that common areas and dwellings do not share the same system.  Alternatively we can replace the original grills with fire rated valves which help to contain the spread of fire.

 

Bathroom ventilation systems often draw in dust, fibres and dirt particles which begin to clog the system.  This can make it less effective, allowing less air to circulate and causing unpleasant odours to circulate. Regular cleaning to TR/19 guidance is important to ensure a good indoor air quality.

 

Planned preventative maintenance is vital in multiple occupancy buildings.  Gaining access to dwellings in order to carry out this cleaning may be difficult, but should be a priority; it will be essential to communicate the importance of this regular maintenance to occupants so that access for cleaning is granted.  In every communal ventilation system regular cleaning, regular testing and cleaning is not only a legal requirement, but also a vital safeguard for residents and visitors.

Is my golf club protected?

By | Fire Dampers, Kitchen Extract Cleaning, News | No Comments

On the course, holes are vital – but in your fire prevention processes, they could be fatal. We’re sure you have all your visible fire prevention measures under control, but what about your less visible fire hazards?

Is your kitchen extract system an unseen fire hazard?

If your clubhouse has a restaurant and a commercial kitchen, it is essential to eliminate the potential fire risk caused by the accumulation of airborne, fat, oil and grease (FOG) on the inner surfaces of the kitchen extraction system. Once this FOG layer exceeds 200 microns (about half the thickness of a business card) it represents a significant fire hazard.  Any fire that takes hold here can spread fire to other parts of the building.

Regular cleaning in compliance with TR/19, the leading industry guidance document on ventilation hygiene, issued by the Building Engineering Services Association, is a vital legal requirement. If you are not TR/19 compliant, your buildings insurance could also be compromised and you could even be at risk of prosecution if you don’t have a regular TR/19 cleaning routine in place.  Our expert Kitchen Extract Fire Safety Cleaning service removes every trace of grease and provides full photographic documentation that demonstrates that your system is TR/19 compliant.

Fire damper testing

If you have a mechanical ventilation system and internal fire-resistant walls, you almost certainly will have a fire damper wherever the ventilation duct intersects a fire wall. This is a set of louvres which are normally open, to allow air circulation, but which, in a fire, can be triggered to close automatically; to delay and prevent the spread of fire through the ductwork to other parts of the building.

All fire dampers must be tested every twelve months, using a method called drop testing. We can provide a cost-effective programme of drop testing, along with cleaning and maintenance to ensure that, should the worst happen, your fire dampers will close as intended, buying valuable time to evacuate everyone to safety.  We’ll also document our work so you can demonstrate your compliance, safeguard your buildings insurance and avoid prosecution for negligence.

Fire dampers – out of sight, but not out of mind

By | Fire Dampers | No Comments

Fire dampers are a hidden but critical part of fire safety. This is especially true in pubs and restaurants, where ventilation ductwork can act as an easy route for fire. Fire dampers can prevent or delay the spread of fire through building’s ventilation system, so it is vital that they are regularly tested, in a process known as drop testing. They must also be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis – in fact it’s a legal requirement to do this in accordance with BS 9999:2008.

In the event of a fire, if the fire dampers in the ventilation ductwork fail to close, there may be no barrier to the spread of flames in a public house or restaurant. In some buildings, the location of the fire dampers has not been recorded, let alone their type or when they were last tested. As, according to their type, fire dampers must be tested and cleaned every 12 months or two years, this can leave you in a serious breach of the law. Do you know where your fire dampers are located and when they were last tested?

Swiftclean will locate all of your fire dampers and determine their type, before drop testing, cleaning and maintaining them in accordance with BS 9999:2008. We will also provide clear records to enable you to demonstrate compliance with the law and determine when testing needs to take place next. Not sure if you comply at the moment? Try our compliance checker here. Pretty sure you need our help? Call 0800 114 3822 now and we’ll be glad to help.

Fire dampers – out of sight, but not out of mind

By | Fire Dampers | No Comments

In the event of a fire, if the fire dampers in the ventilation ductwork fail to close, there is no barrier to the spread of flames across the multiple areas of a hotel, stadium or leisure complex. In some buildings, the location of the fire dampers has not been recorded, let alone their type or when they were last tested. As, according to their type, fire dampers must be tested and cleaned every 12 months or two years, this can leave you in serious breach of the law. Do you know where your fire dampers are located and when they were last tested?

Swiftclean will locate all of your fire dampers and determine their type, before drop testing, cleaning and maintaining them in accordance with BS9999:2008. We will also provide clear records to enable you to demonstrate compliance with the law and determine when testing needs to take place next. Not sure if you comply at the moment? Try our compliance checker here. Pretty sure you need our help? Call 0800 114 3722 now and we’ll be glad to help.

Fire damper testing – pass or fail could mean life or death

By | Fire Dampers | No Comments

Fire damper testing, an essential part of school safety, are installed completely out of sight – but definitely shouldn’t be out of mind.  Fire dampers prevent the spread of fire through the building’s ventilation system, so it is vital that they are regularly tested, in a process known as drop testing.  They must also be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis – in fact it’s a legal requirement to do this in accordance with BS 9999:2008.

Most school properties consist of classrooms and well-defined areas; this is very useful in the event of a fire, as the building is naturally compartmentalised. However, if the fire dampers fail to close to create a passive barrier for fire, that natural compartmentation is compromised and the ventilation ductwork can form the perfect passage through which fire can spread.  In some buildings, the location of the fire dampers has not been recorded, let alone their type or when they were last tested.  As, according to their type, fire dampers must be tested and cleaned every 12 months or two years, this can leave you in serious breach of the law.

Swiftclean will locate all your fire dampers and determine their type, before drop testing, cleaning and maintaining them in accordance with BS 9999:2008. We will also provide clear records so you can demonstrate that you have complied with the law; and so that you will know when next to test to stay compliant.  Not sure if you comply at the moment?  Try our compliance checker here.  Pretty sure you need our help?  Call 0800 114 3696  now and we’ll be glad to help.