Q: I have a building that is fully sprinklered and has full protection from the fire alarm system, with multiple floors. The age of the building is 40+ years and when it was constructed it was not fully sprinklered and had fire and smoke dampers (some still pneumatic) to control the spread of fire and smoke. Our last damper inspection revealed that we have 44 dampers that are not functioning or they are inaccessible to inspect. My question is, since we are now fully protected by sprinklers and are using the rule for smoke compartments on the floors, are all the dampers we have are necessary or can we possible take some out of service? What is the rule on this situation?
A: That’s tough question to answer without actually seeing the facility, but I’ll take a stab at it: If the smoke compartment layout has been re-designed, and you find that some existing smoke barriers are no longer required, then the smoke dampers located in those smoke barriers could be removed, pending approval from your state and local authorities on hospital construction. However, if existing smoke barriers remain in use but you would like to remove the smoke dampers because section 188.8.131.52 (2) of the 2012 LSC says smoke dampers are not required in new construction smoke barrier where the HVAC duct is fully ducted and the adjoining zones are fully sprinklered…. That may not happen because the IBC codes do not allow this. If you are required to comply with the IBC codes, then this will be a problem. Check with your state and local authorities to see if they require compliance with the IBC codes.