Smoke dampers play an important role by stopping smoke from leaking as part of an extraction system. However, FläktGroup, a leading provider of air management solutions, reveals that, in many cases, the mandatory standard for smoke dampers is being overlooked as specifiers instead opt for cheaper, uncertified products.
In recent years, the European Union has introduced harmonised testing standards for smoke and heat control systems (EN 12101). Part 8, which specifically focussed on smoke control dampers, requires the testing of products in fire situations. This is to ensure that they open and close correctly, in accordance with the set fire safety strategy.
Simon Plummer, national fire safety and fans product manager at FläktGroup, explains the extent of the problem: “Smoke extraction systems are an essential part of any modern fire protection strategy. Any leakages, including from the dampers or the ducts, affect their performance and put lives at risk when people are trying to evacuate a building during a fire. That’s why ducts, fittings, hangers and dampers all have to be fire tested so that they keep their stability and fittings remain tight and secure in an emergency.
“With the regulations around smoke control a complex mix of evolving legislation and guidance, it can be a challenge for specifiers and building managers to know if their systems are fully compliant or not. But beware – products that are not certified to the harmonised European standards pose a severe risk to the entire fire safety system, and it is alarming that there are many dampers in the market that don’t meet this regulatory requirement.
“Although some products say that they have been designed and tested to the latest standards, they may not be officially certified by an independent body. This, combined with a lack of enforcement from the relevant authorities, means that many people are not aware that the smoke dampers they are deploying are actually illegal.
“We would urge the construction industry to only use smoke dampers that have been independently tested and CE marked to make sure they are fit for purpose. That way, building owners, managers and occupiers can have complete peace of mind that performance is assured in the event of a fire.”