To a normal person, a modern HVAC system is a collection of ducts and tubes for cooling a room. But, to an arsonist, it can be an effective delivery system for carrying flames to different parts of a building. Fortunately, system designers already anticipated this possibility and strategically place fire dampers as part of standard operating procedure.
For people to understand how these dampers work, they need to know what exactly these are meant to prevent. No one should go around thinking that ducts are ticking time bombs ready to explode any second. HVAC systems are not explosive in any way; the only fire danger they pose is that they can sustain, hide and spread flames if left unchecked.
The inside of an air duct is essentially a wind tunnel: if a flame gets big enough to withstand the gusts, the wind can actually feed the fire and carry it to other parts of the buildings. The worst part is, fire prevention units wouldn’t be able to handle the fires immediately without actually entering the ducts, which is dangerous because of the smoke.
Fire dampers act as bottle caps that contain the fire to a single section of a duct system to both contain and choke the flames out. Similar to modern sprinkler systems, fire dampers operate in a temperature sensitive spring system that only activates in the presence of a fire. These passive systems employ fire resistant walls and shielding to contain a fire, regardless of how hot it gets.
The only weakness of the fire damper system, being a passive fire prevention tool, is that nobody will notice it’s working until it doesn’t. Most people would rather not have the opportunity to experience what would happen when fire dampers do become noticeable, which is why regular checks are necessary.
Fortunately, in addition to our HVAC products, we provide Fire Damper Inspection and Auditing services for commercial, residential, and industrial buildings. Go to our Fire Dampers page, or get more information about all our services by contacting us directly. Our teams are ready and waiting to answer your questions and point you in the right direction when it comes to your HVAC needs.