AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - 12

PHOTO 2. Curtain-style
fire damper.

identify that the damper is not operating properly. That is
because the remote-test method requires positive indication that both the open and closed positions have been

in the case of dampers with pneumatic actuators, air pres-

reached. For example, if a sheet-metal screw is installed in

sure-is removed from the actuator, the spring inside the

a damper's linkage, the damper may be able to close, but

actuator rotates the damper blades to the closed position,

not be able to fully open. The position-indication linkage

which again moves the linkage. Once the damper reaches

connected to the damper blade, then, will not trip the

the closed position, the linkage trips a second electrome-

electromechanical switch that confirms the open position,

chanical switch used to confirm the damper is closed.

resulting in a failed test. Anytime a remote test cannot

The use of position-indication devices is not new.

confirm a damper is able to reach its open or closed posi-

They have been used in smoke-control systems to confirm

tion, NFPA 80 and NFPA 105 require a visual inspection to

smoke and combination fi re/smoke dampers are in the

be conducted and repairs to be made immediately.

intended position for over 25 years. In fact, Section 909 of
the International Building Code requires dampers used as

Benefits of Remote Testing

part of a smoke-control system to have position-indication

There are several benefits to conducting life-safety-damper

capability. Thus, remote damper tests can be performed in

testing remotely. One concerns accessibility. While some

Section 909 smoke-control systems with no requirement

life-safety dampers cannot be accessed without the removal

for additional hardware or system integration.

of permanent building features, the remote-test method
provides an option for periodically confirming such dampers

Concerns Over Remote Testing

are operating properly. Additionally, the remote-test method

Concerns about the reliability of remote testing have been

eliminates the need to breach ceiling membranes for the

raised. First, it must be remembered that not all life-safety

conducting of tests. Opening ceilings has the potential to

dampers are candidates for remote testing. The most notable

expose building occupants to airborne microbes that can

example is the curtain-style fire damper (Photo 2). Because

lead to infectious disease. This especially is a concern in

a curtain-style fire damper does not have an actuator, it

health-care facilities.

cannot be operated remotely. Thus, code-required periodic

The remote-test method also dramatically reduces the

testing of a curtain-style fi re damper or any other non-

cost and coordination associated with life-safety-damper

actuated damper must be conducted using the visual-test

inspection. Because remote tests can be conducted at little

method described in NFPA 80.

cost, they increase the likelihood and frequency of damper

Often, improper installation or tampering during

inspections, improving building safety.

building construction is to blame for poor life-safetydamper operation. Examples include dampers installed

Summary

out of square, sheet-metal screws installed in locations

The 2019 editions of NFPA 80 and NFPA 105 allow building

preventing damper linkages from fully operating a damper,

owners to conduct code-required periodic testing of certain

the loosening of actuator clamps on damper shafts, and

life-safety dampers remotely. Once three preconditions are

boards installed between damper blades to prop open a

met, periodic testing can be conducted more cost-effec-

damper. Such problems normally are identified during

tively and more frequently, leading to safer buildings.

the visual inspection required by NFPA 80 and NFPA 105
at the time a building is commissioned, prior to remote
testing. If the problems are not identified during the initial

Did you find this article useful? Send comments to Editor

visual inspection or they occur afterward, a remote test will

in Chief Scott Arnold at sarnold@amca.org.

12

20 19 A M CA i n m o t i o n

w w w. a m c a .o r g


http://www.amca.org

AMCA InMotion - September 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AMCA InMotion - September 2019

Contents
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - BB1
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - BB2
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - Cover1
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - Cover2
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - Contents
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - 2
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - 3
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - 4
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - 5
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - 6
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - 7
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - 8
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - 9
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - 10
AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - 11
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AMCA InMotion - September 2019 - Cover4
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