By: Angelica Vega
Imagine you are on your work shift at the hospital and a fire breaks out on your floor. Suddenly, your floor is full of smoke too. The smoke is spreading
There are many kinds of dampers but one important function for a fire and smoke damper is to close properly in the event of a fire thereby stopping the spread of smoke throughout a facility. So having your damper inspected on a regular basis is especially important for the health and safety of everyone in the facility.
As a damper inspector for the Life Safety Services (LSS) company, I have the responsibility and honor of knowing that I am protecting the health and safety of every person in each facility that I do an inspection. Knowing that I make an important difference in people’s lives makes me happy to go to work every day.
Let me tell you about a typical day on the job. I arrive at the hospital or assisted living home in the morning. First, I usually meet up with the maintenance coordinator who will hand me a copy of the smoke and damper blueprint. We will go over the locations of all the dampers throughout the facility to make sure my inspection will be accurate and thorough. Then we decide how we will access each area of the facility. For example, for me to inspect the psychiatric, unit I need a hospital personnel escort to access that unit.
Since most of the dampers are in the ceiling, I get on my ladder and I go through either an access panel or a drop ceiling to check if the fire, smoke, or combination damper is open or closed. The most common problems I have seen are: no power to the actuator, a broken latch, or a broken hose for a hermetic damper. Problems like these cause dampers to fail.
Again, in the event of a fire, if the damper is not working properly then everyone’s life is at risk. At the facilities I have worked in, they have excellent maintenance employees; but these employees may not be aware of the conditions of the dampers because they are usually obscured in the ceiling or floor. That is what makes our expertise so important. When I complete my inspections, I meet with the facility’s maintenance coordinator again to advise him or her about my findings. After I fill out my inspection reports, LSS is able to send out technicians to make the necessary repairs. I take pride in the fact that I am a first line of defense in safeguarding people’s health and safety.