Q: We are looking for some clarification on fire damper testing requirements as we recently had inspections done at our surgery center. One contractor says dampers with fusible links require the links be replaced once they are tested, so does that mean that we have to test and then replace them each time or is there a different requirement for that type specifically?
A: Fire dampers must be tested in accordance with NFPA 80-2010, chapter 19. Section 19.4.4 says If the damper is equipped with a fusible link, the link shall be removed for testing to ensure full closure and lock-in place if so equipped. Section 19.4.8 says the fusible link shall be reinstalled after testing is complete. Section 188.8.131.52 says if the link is damaged or painted, it shall be replaced with a link of the same size, temperature, and load rating.
There is no requirement in NFPA 80-2010 to automatically replace the link every time the damper is tested. Perhaps there may be some confusion with the annual testing of fire dampers in the kitchen hood exhaust system which does require automatically replacing the fusible links every time those dampers are tested, but that’s not part of NFPA 80.
Section 19.4.11 says periodic inspections and testing of a combination fire/smoke damper shall also meet the inspection and testing requirements contained in Chapter 6 of NFPA 105, Standard for Smoke Door Assemblies and Other Opening Protectives. So, a combination fire/smoke damper would have to comply with both NFPA 80 and NFPA 105.
Section 6.5.5 of NFPA 105-2010 says where a fusible link is installed on a combination fire/smoke damper, the fusible link shall be removed for testing the damper for full closure simulating a fire condition per the requirements and frequencies of 19.5.4 of NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. So, if a fusible link exists in a combination damper then you comply with the requirements of NFPA 80 in removing the link for the test. There are no requirements to automatically replace the link.
NFPA 105 continues to explain that smoke dampers are tested once every 4-years for non-hospitals and must be tested with normal HVAC airflow.
Brad Keyes, CHSP, is the owner of KEYES Life Safety Compliance, and his expertise is in the management of the Life Safety Program, including the Environment of Care and Emergency Management programs.