Fire Dampers

The Building Code of Australia in Part C3 Protection of Openings clause, C3.12 ‘Openings in floors and ceilings for services’ and C3.15 ‘Openings for service installations’ sets the parameters for when openings in floors and walls are to be protected and then specifies how these openings are to be protected. Fire dampers are designed to seal penetrations that are used for air movement from a fire resistant shaft or from one fire compartment to another. All fire dampers are nominated as an essential safety measure.

Building Code of Australia

Clause C3.15 (b) Ventilation and air-conditioning requires fire dampers to be installed in accordance with AS/NZS 1668.1:1998 “The use of ventilation and air-conditioning in buildings – Fire and smoke control in multi-compartment buildings under a building permit”.

Fire dampers can either be fully mechanical or composite and constructed with intumescent material. When in contact with heat intumescent swells many times its original thickness to form a solid barrier to fire in the opening containing fire dampers.

The following photographs depict fire dampers installed in a building.

The following is a part extract of Clause I1.1 for an Essential Safety Measure (as appeared in BCA 2013) known as fire dampers:

Table I1.1 SAFETY MEASURES – BUILDING FIRE INTEGRITY

Safety Measures BCA Provision for Determining Standard of Performance
Fire protection at service penetrations through elements required to be fire-resisting with respect to integrity or insulation, or to have a resistance to the incipient spread of fire C3.12, C3.13, C3.15

Essential Safety Measures Audit – Air Conditioning Systems

A common problem for essential safety measure auditors is locating fire dampers in a building. A lot of fire dampers are located in a building without adequate access panels for inspection purposes. It is not uncommon for a lot of fire dampers not to be able to be inspected due to access problems.

Maintenance routines are carried out under AS 1851-2005 ‘Maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment’. An essential safety measures auditor must be familiar with the various types of fire dampers installed in the building and be prepared to squeeze into some tight situations to ensure fire safety compliance. Abuilding surveyor/ building certifier’s essential safety measures schedule/ determination will nominate the frequency of inspections required. Inspections that require rectification works on fire dampers must be recorded in the essential safety measures logbook to allow for signing the Annual Statement, Annual Certificate of Compliance, Annual Fire Safety Statement, Annual Maintenance Statement and Annual Occupiers Statement.