Spread the love ... not smoke!
There are many organisations in the UK that have installed Drax Technology’s AMX alarm management system to monitor smoke and heat sensors from different fire alarm systems situated across their site. The AMX software is employed to manage alarms from disparate systems and assist with regulatory compliance. However, one hospital’s main requirement was AMX’s capability to monitor the hospital’s fire doors and fire/smoke dampers.

Buildings with a sleeping risk are designed to have fire doors in corridors to prevent smoke moving from one compartment to the next and provide occupants in areas adjacent to the fire with sufficient time to evacuate the premises by an alternative route.

Another, often ignored item of equipment are fire/smoke dampers. These are positioned in heating and ventilation ducts where the duct passes through a wall from one fire compartment to another. Often fire/smoke dampers are installed in the ceiling void above the fire door mentioned previously. Both are there to close and ensure the integrity of the fire compartment is maintained in the event of a fire. Primarily to stop the spread of smoke.

This all sounds fine and in most application’s works well. Even if doors are held open with magnetic door retainers during working hours, to allow free passage of staff and patients through corridors, the activation of a smoke sensor will signal the door retaining device to release and the self-closing mechanism to close the door. That’s the theory. However, in a very large building ensuring the various systems work faultlessly all the time and that people do not restrict the automatic closing of the doors becomes an area for concern.

As for fire/smoke dampers, who has ever seen one?

In a modern building with heating and ventilation ducts there will be dozens (similar, to one pictured), may be even hundreds, but they are generally out of sight. So, would know whether they are open or closed? Some have switches that operate to facilitate indication of their open or closed status, the majority either don’t use the facility or simply don’t have a switch. In the UK most installed fire/smoke dampers are simply equipped with fusible links designed to fail when the temperature rises allowing the damper to spring closed. Did you also know, that these dampers must be tested a minimum of every 12 months?

Drax Technology developed a dedicated Actionair network manager (NWM) to interface with the sophisticated Actionair damper control system on the hospital site mentioned above. Using Drax Technology’s powerful AMX alarm monitoring software to display the status of the fire/smoke dampers along with that of the fire doors and instigate alarms when either were not closed and should have been.

If your building doesn’t have its own damper control monitoring system, what do you do? Well Drax Technology can still help. If the damper is equipped with a switch, then there are a range of options to monitor the status of the damper using either wired or wireless interfaces. If there is no switch, then monitoring the status of the damper is impossible. However, using the graphical maps created as part of the AMX alarm management system, used to show the location of smoke, heat sensors, break glass call points and fire doors. The location of the dampers can be easily added and an asset register created to assist with identification as well as the ongoing maintenance and compliance requirements. Not perfect but a good deal better than not knowing where they are installed and when they were last tested.

As well as the obvious and important safety advantages of such a system, security staff productivity and efficiency benefits can also be gained by using Drax Technology’s AMX alarm management system. Clearly the above would work as well in other buildings that have a sleeping risk. Hotels, student accommodation, residential or nursing homes would all benefit from knowing that the doors and fire/smoke dampers that should be closed are closed and being properly maintained.

Please contact keith.minster@draxtechnology to discuss the life safety requirements for your business in more detail.