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BESA Warns of Critical Fire Safety Issue in Ventilation Systems

BESA Warns of Critical Fire Safety Issue in Ventilation Systems
25 August 2022
 

The Building Engineering Services Association has issued an urgent warning about a potential fire safety weakness in a large number of building ventilation systems.

Flagging the critical fire damper safety issue, BESA has issued an interim technical bulletin (VH001) ahead of a full update of its industry guidance for the “Installation of Fire Dampers and Smoke Dampers” (DW145) which is due for launch at the Association’s National Conference in October.

BESA’s technical committee sanctioned the technical bulletin, which is freely available on the Association’s website, to give contractors the information and appropriate terminology to alert clients to the problem.

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

 

Action Needed on Self-Drilling "Tek" Screws “Without Delay”

 

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

“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.

“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.”

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.

It outlines the crucial role played by the penetration seal in ensuring the overall fire-stopping integrity of an installation, the importance of maintenance teams being able to find and access dampers for testing and repair, and the need for designers and installers to seek expert advice from damper manufacturers.

Picture: a photograph of a ceiling-mounted fire exit sign. Image Credit: Pixabay

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 25 August 2022

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