Fire and Smoke Dampers

fire and smoke damper

Combination fire and smoke dampers serve a dual function in HVAC systems: preventing the spread of fire and limiting smoke migration. These devices are critical components of a comprehensive fire safety strategy, offering protection against both elements during a fire event.

Selecting the right damper type is crucial and should be informed by local building codes, the HVAC system’s design, and the specific fire safety needs of a building.

If you’re looking for a damper and need assistance, contact a specialist.

Table of Contents

What are Fire and Smoke Dampers

Combination fire and smoke dampers are a type of safety device used in the ductwork of HVAC systems that serve a dual purpose: they respond to both heat and smoke. This means they combine the functions of both fire dampers and smoke dampers into one single unit, providing a comprehensive solution for controlling the spread of fire and smoke in a building.

When the temperature in the ductwork reaches a specified limit – typically 165 degrees Fahrenheit – similar to a standalone fire damper, the combination damper will close, preventing the passage of flames through the duct.

Simultaneously, these combination dampers are also wired to the building’s fire alarm system, similar to smoke dampers. They will close in response to the detection of smoke, preventing its spread through the building’s HVAC system.

This dual functionality is particularly valuable in situations where building codes require both smoke and fire protection at a single location within the HVAC system. With a combination fire and smoke damper, these requirements can be met with a single device, simplifying installation and maintenance while ensuring the highest level of safety.

In essence, a combination fire and smoke damper offers a holistic fire safety solution. It enhances a building’s fire strategy by limiting the impact of a fire incident, protecting not only the building’s infrastructure but also ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its occupants.

However, it’s crucial to ensure these devices are correctly installed, regularly inspected, and adequately maintained for them to function as intended during an emergency.

Fire/Smoke dampers are similar to Fire Dampers in fire resistance rating, and also prevent the spread of smoke inside the ducts.

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Choosing the Right Damper

Choosing between fire dampers, smoke dampers, and combination fire and smoke dampers involves several factors.

Here are some key aspects to consider:

Building Codes and Regulations

The local building codes and regulations often dictate which type of damper is required. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), International Building Code (IBC), and other local codes and standards provide guidelines on where and when each type of damper is necessary.

Purpose and Location

The purpose of the damper and the location where it will be installed can help determine the right type. Fire dampers are usually required where ductwork penetrates fire-rated barriers. Smoke dampers are typically required in smoke barriers. If a duct penetrates a wall that is both a fire and smoke barrier, a combination damper would be needed.

HVAC System Design

The design of your HVAC system may also influence the type of damper to be used.

Some systems might require dynamic dampers (source), which can close against airflow when the system is operating, while others may only require static dampers, which close when the HVAC system is shut down in a fire event.

Life Safety Strategy

A comprehensive life safety strategy might call for the use of smoke dampers or combination dampers over fire dampers alone. Because smoke is responsible for a significant percentage of fire-related injuries and deaths (study), controlling smoke spread can be as important as controlling fire spread.

Cost and Maintenance

Combination fire and smoke dampers, while providing comprehensive protection, can be more expensive and may require more extensive maintenance than separate fire or smoke dampers.

It’s important to balance the upfront costs and ongoing maintenance requirements with the level of protection provided.

Damper Ratings

Dampers have various ratings for temperature, pressure, and leakage (see Texas). It’s crucial to choose a damper with the appropriate ratings for your specific application.

Consultation with an specialist or fire protection engineer can help determine the most appropriate type of damper for your specific needs and ensure compliance with all relevant codes and standards. It’s also essential to consider regular inspections and maintenance after the dampers are installed to ensure they continue to function correctly.

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Summarizing the Importance of Fire and Smoke Dampers: Choosing the Right Solution for Your Building’s Safety

Fire and smoke dampers play a vital role in enhancing fire safety in buildings. For a more comprehensive solution, combination fire and smoke dampers can be installed, offering protection against both fire and smoke propagation.

Choosing between these dampers depends on multiple factors, such as building codes and regulations, the design and purpose of the HVAC system, your overall life safety strategy, cost considerations, and damper ratings. Each type has its unique benefits and use cases, and the choice should be carefully tailored to the specific needs of your building.

However, navigating the complex landscape of fire safety regulations and HVAC system design can be a daunting task. That’s where professional consultation comes in. 

Reach out to our team of experienced professionals for a comprehensive damper installation consultation. We will guide you in determining the right type of damper for your specific application, ensuring not only compliance with all relevant codes and standards but also the safety and well-being of the building’s occupants.

Don’t leave safety to chance. Contact us today to explore how we can enhance your building’s fire safety strategy with the appropriate use of fire and smoke dampers.

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Supplying Fire & Smoke Dampers

Knape Associates can provide you with fast quotes on the correct Smoke & Fire dampers for your application.

We are official representatives of Fire/Smoke products that covers Texas and beyond.

We can also send out a trained specialist to assess the area and make certain the proper equipment is being used for your specific application.