Chutes can unfortunately transfer flame and smoke very quickly through a building in the event of a fire. The heat build up inside the Chute can cause any combustible material in close proximity to the Chute, such as roof joists, to burst into flames. This can cause considerable damage to the building resulting in significantly higher insurance claims and present fire fighters with a more difficult task than need be.
Fire safety is critical when protecting assets and lives. Commercial Linen and Bin Chutes should be periodically inspected, serviced and maintained to reduce the risk of a fire occurring, to reduce the damage a fire may cause and to reduce the risk of injury or death to your employees or residents. Completing a regular Chute Fire Risk Assessment and conducting a proactive preventative maintenance programme will help to reduce the risk of fire on your premises.
It is the responsibility of the designated ‘Responsible Person’ to ensure the Chute is in good working order, is fire safe and that it complies with Building Regulations and Fire Safety standards. At Chute Fire Certification UK®, we would recommend an annual Service & Inspection by one of our Fire Technicians for your Laundry Chute or a bi-annual Service & Inspection for your Refuse Chute to ensure fire safety compliance, and as an employer, owner or landlord you are meeting your legal obligations in protecting lives and the integrity of your assets.
Fire plates and dampers play a crucial role in a building’s fire safety system. If they don’t operate as designed fire can spread with rapid, lethal results. A fire dampers is a vitally important part of a Chute system and need to be part of a fire damper maintenance programme to ensure correct operation.
BS9999:2017 – Code of Practice for the Fire Safety in the Design, Management and Use of Buildings: Maintenance of air conditioning and ventilation equipment including air filters, motors, fire dampers and their controls, smoke detectors and alarms is of paramount importance both in preventing fire and in ensuring that measures taken to mitigate its consequences are effective when needed.
Appendix W of BS9999:2017 recommends that fire plates and all types of dampers to be tested by a competent person on completion of the installation and at regular intervals not exceeding 12 months. They are to be repaired or replaced immediately if found to be faulty. Fire dampers in dust laden and similar atmospheres (refuse/laundry) should be tested much more frequently, at periods suited to the degree of pollution.
Building managers will need to be aware of the Fire Precautions and the ramifications of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO). The provision and maintenance of the fire-rated ductwork, fire plates and dampers within the building should form part of the risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 for the building. Managers need to be aware that there may be liability issues in the failure to comply with regulations.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places a duty of care on the building owner/occupier to take such general fire precautions as will ensure, so far as reasonably practical, the safety of the building and safety of the people within it. Section 17 of this Order deals with maintenance of systems to control the fire risk and requires that they are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
Where fire-resistant ductwork and fire plates or dampers need to be removed, have become damaged, or need to be replaced, they must be made good as soon as possible with products that are tested and approved to BS476: Part 22 Section 6: 1987.
Where risks exist and are not being managed appropriately, Fire Authorities have a statutory duty to enforce regulatory compliance and may serve an Enforcement or Prohibition notice dependant upon the seriousness of the fire risk. Minor penalties could be up to £5,000 whilst in the most serious cases – where a poorly maintained fire damper is deemed as a contributing factor to the death – those responsible are liable to prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007.