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How does a Fire Damper Work?



A fire damper is a crucial component of a building's fire protection system. Its primary function is to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) ductwork or ventilation systems in commercial and residential buildings. Fire dampers are typically installed within ducts and ventilation openings where they act as barriers that automatically close when exposed to high temperatures during a fire event. Here's how they work:



Construction:

Fire dampers are made of metal, and they are designed to fit snugly within the ductwork or ventilation openings. They consist of a metal frame, usually with blades or louvers, and a heat-responsive element.


Heat-Responsive Element:

The heat-responsive element is the key mechanism that triggers the closure of the damper during a fire. It is typically a fusible link or a thermal sensor. A fusible link is a piece of metal that melts at a specific temperature, while a thermal sensor is a device that senses the increase in temperature and activates the damper.


Normal Operation:

Under normal conditions, the fire damper remains open, allowing air to flow freely through the ductwork or ventilation system, maintaining the desired airflow for heating, cooling, and ventilation.


Activation during Fire:

When a fire occurs and the temperature rises to a specific threshold, the heat-responsive element reacts by either melting (in the case of a fusible link) or activating the thermal sensor. This triggers the closure mechanism of the fire damper.


Closure:

Once the heat-responsive element is triggered, the metal blades or louvers in the damper close, creating a physical barrier that prevents the fire and smoke from traveling through the ductwork or ventilation openings to other parts of the building.


Containment:

By closing off the duct or ventilation pathway, the fire damper contains the fire within its original compartment, limiting its spread to other areas of the building. This helps protect occupants and property and allows additional time for evacuation and firefighting efforts.


Resetting:

After the fire has been extinguished and the temperature

drops, the heat-responsive element may reset itself (in the case of a fusible link) or be manually reset (in the case of some thermal sensors). Once the damper is reset, it can resume its normal open position, allowing ventilation and airflow to resume.


Regular maintenance and testing of fire dampers are essential to ensure their proper functioning in the event of a fire. Building codes and regulations often require periodic inspection and maintenance of fire dampers to ensure their reliability and effectiveness.


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