Dampered Duct Deficiencies in Hospitals

Existing accredited healthcare facilities are required to maintain the fire-resistance rated walls identified on their Life Safety Plans as part of the ongoing maintenance for Life Safety per the Joint Commission requirements. During State of Condition surveys of existing healthcare facilities, it is common to see citations associated with fire-resistance rated walls or smoke barriers. More specifically, deficiencies associated with opening protectives such as doors, dampers, or penetrations of fire- or smoke-rated walls.

This blog post specifically addresses commonly observed issues associated with dampered ducts penetrating a fire-resistance rated wall. Often, issues are cited relative to the installation of intumescent firestopping applied around the annular space of duct penetrations where fire dampers are installed. A vast majority of fire dampers are not permitted by their fire tests to be installed with an intumescent product in the annular space around the duct penetration. This is caused by the nature of the intumescent firestopping itself – when the product expands in elevated temperatures, as designed, it can deform the duct work and prevent proper closure of the fire damper.

Another common deficiency observed are dampered ducts that do not have angle irons installed. All fire, smoke, or combination fire/smoke dampers are required to be installed per the manufacturer’s listing for its specific use, which typically requires the use of angle irons to rigidly support the duct from deforming. It is common for listings to require non-intumescent materials to be utilized in the installation of the damper, but in some specific listings a firestopping material may be permitted. However, if the installation instructions for the model of damper do not permit the installation of firestopping, it will need to be removed to maintain the listing of the damper.

Lastly, it is commonly observed that damper access panels are not labeled. Damper access panels are required to be identified with the words “Fire Damper”, “Smoke Damper”, or “Fire/Smoke Damper” in letters not less than one inch in height, as required by NFPA 80.

If you have any questions or would like assistance with fire and life safety code compliance related to life safety deficiencies your facility might have, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@crcfire.com.

Application of any information provided, for any use, is at the reader’s risk and without liability to Code Red Consultants. Code Red Consultants does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in this blog as applicable codes and standards change over time. The application, enforcement and interpretation of codes and standards may vary between Authorities Having Jurisdiction and for this reason, registered design professionals should be consulted to determine the appropriate application of codes and standards to a specific scope of work.