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Thu April 25 2024

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BESA issues alert over ventilation fire damper risk

26 Aug 22 The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has issued a warning about a potential fire safety weakness in numerous building ventilation systems.

BESA has issued an interim technical bulletin ahead of a full update of its industry guidance for the ‘Installation of Fire Dampers and Smoke Dampers’ (DW145), set to be launched at the association’s national conference in October.

BESA said that it was producing an interim announcement because of “the urgent nature of the problem” exposed by annual inspections carried out by maintenance contractors. They found that “a huge number of dampers” had been incorrectly installed.

Head of technical Graeme Fox explained that many did not comply with manufacturers’ instructions and needed remedial action “without delay”.

He said: “We have been alerted to the very dangerous practice of using self-drilling ‘tek’ screws which do not melt when temperatures rise during a building fire. This means spring-loaded dampers will not be released to contain the spread of fire within the zone and ensure the integrity of the fire stopping measure.”  

He added: “Dampers must be secured by fusible fixings that allow the duct to break away otherwise the collapsing duct could pull the damper out of place and break the seal between the fire zones.”

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The technical bulletin provides contractors with the information require to alert clients to the problem.

The bulletin also updates the guidance and statutory requirements covering installation, testing and maintenance of fire dampers and smoke dampers including clients’ legal obligations to ensure their fire safety systems remain fit for purpose in line with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 for England and Wales and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

“While this is clearly a very worrying situation, we can take some reassurance from the fact that this problem is being brought to our attention by the increasing frequency of fire damper inspections and tests as awareness grows of this extremely important issue,” Graeme Fox said.

“We would urge contractors to alert their clients immediately so all the necessary checks and repairs can be carried out.”

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