BIM4H Dampers Guidance

BIM4H Dampers GuidanceBy Richard Freer

Below are recommendations that we, as BIM4Housing, are putting forward as the findings of Dampers Guidance experts.  We do not claim these findings to be definitive, but we would hope that they would provide ‘accountable’ and ‘responsible’ persons with some of the detail they would require to ensure that risks are mitigated.


The structure of this set of information is designed to be consumed in various ways by different stakeholder groups doing different things. Therefore, information mentioned in one section may be repeated in another, so they can be applied to a particular activity.

Also, we have sought to organize the information to make it more machine-readable so, although the lists could be reduced by combining similar items, this would make them less easily used in applications.

Despite the need to edit and contextualise, we have tried to retain the authentic voice of our experts throughout. This is especially so in the Appendices, where no colloquialism is left unturned.

Terms of use

This document is not intended as an end-result, but as a snapshot of a dynamic, on-going piece of work being developed by Subject Matter Experts who represent the different interest groups.

We hope it is helpful but is not definitive because, as we have learned from our collaboration, no one knows everything. It should therefore be used to supplement other sources of information, all of which should be validated by a responsible person applying it to a project.

Comments and additional contributions are welcome and a panel of volunteer experts will review suggestions to assess/validate them and augment the guidance as required.

It will be available for free at but should not be printed and used offline, because the information may be updated and be no longer valid.”



We have six Working Groups of experts who understand the individual Stakeholder needs of Development, Design , Construction , Manufacturing , Operations, and the specialist Advisors who support the whole process. Each Working Group determines the problems they are experiencing that could be alleviated by better information, often from a different Stakeholder group and they collectively establish Workstreams to collaborate and share knowledge to come up with practical solutions.

They have established Workstreams for MMC, Data Standardisation, Sustainability and Fire Safety and the latter has, in turn, established Round Table workshops that bring together SMEs who really understand specific asset types. Outputs from the workshops will feed into the GTI.

(See Appendix 1 for Structure Diagram)

Fire Safety Methodology

It was determined to take individual fire-critical assets and examine impacts and influences through their lifecycle. A series of online discussions were held, along with one-on-one calls and an email gathering of views and inputs.  This culminated in a series of Roundtable discussions, each with a clear focus and targeted output.  BIM4Housing’s expert team was enhanced by guests from the GTI, along with other fire safety specialists throughout.

Phase 1 defined the over-arching questions that need to be answered, for each asset type, to deliver the BIM-plus solution necessary to the effective functioning of the Golden Thread in terms of Fire Safety.

The questions defined are:

  • What risks does the asset mitigate?
  • To what risks is the asset, itself, susceptible?
  • What information is needed about an asset, to ensure it performs as required?
  • What tasks/method statements/procedures are required to ensure the asset is installed, commissioned, inspected, and maintained properly?
  • What level of competency/training needs to be in place?
  • How should product changes be recorded?

Phase 2 sought to answer those questions, offering a definitive guide to the delivery of The Golden Thread through the effective management of required information.

Phase 3 seeks to build on our ongoing learning and experience and include further assets in our process.

Dampers Methodology

The output from a Roundtables (3rd and 13th September 2021) was collated and contextualized and combined with further subject matter expert input.  Significant participant engagement was achieved prior to the events.  The resulting report was then peer-reviewed.

What are Dampers?

Fire dampers are passive fire protection products used in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts to prevent the spread of fire inside the ductwork through fire-resistance rated walls and floors.



It was determined to look to ‘codify’ risks to enable teams to coalesce around tackling a problem, run scenarios to simulate what might happen and how collaboration can reduce the risk of them happening.

Two other GTI Working Groups, H&S and Standards, have been working with NBS to extend Uniclass to carry a more detailed set of risks and, those identified here, can form part of that.

Clearly, it is not desirable for the ‘Accountable Person’ to be absolved of responsibility for not anticipating a risk, simply because it was not on the list of suggested risks- which should be considered a ‘steer’ not an absolute. However, without that list, it becomes impossible to define and deliver the information needed.

Q1a. What risks do dampers mitigate?

  • Risk of smoke build-up
  • Risk of heat build-up
  • Risk to fire-fighter’s access
  • The risk of the spread of fire and products of fire (fire, smoke, heat) via cavities in external and internal walls, along with other concealed cavities (such a roof and ceiling voids)
  • Risk of spread of fire, smoke, and heat between building compartmentations.
  • Risk of speed of fire and smoke spread
  • Risk of number of uncontained areas
  • Risk of inhibiting safe exit from the building
  • Risk of fire brigade not having enough time to attend before fire spread
  • Risk of system failure.
  • Risk of Injury/harm/loss of life to residents/occupants.
  • Risk of smoke damage and subsequence.
  • Risk of compromising security, both for the building and individual apartments, when doors don’t close properly or are propped open.
  • Risk of reduced thermal efficiency
  • Risk of degraded acoustics.
  • Risk of damage to property, building or structure
  • Risk to the environment in terms of the pollutants that are released and develop from the fire-smoke, soot, toxic fumes, contaminated firefighting water runoff

(See Appendix 2 for Additional Participant Input)

Q1b. To what risks are dampers susceptible?

  • Risk of wrong supporting construction
  • Risk of incorrect wall type
  • Risk of incorrect wall grouping. i.e., A, B or C as tested.
  • Risk of incorrect vertical seal depth
  • Risk of incorrect vertical seal depth
  • Risk of incorrect seal depth through the wall
  • Risk of incorrect layers of aperture framing
  • Risk of incorrect distances between other services within the wall to meet the fire test data of the wall
  • Risk of incorrect wall seal material e.g. different seal material manufacturer without direct test evidence or a different density of material
  • Risk of incorrect wall deflection head details
  • Risk of PMC Support’s distances of drops from the penetration seal differ from Part 3, 2, 1 etc.
  • Risk of PMC Competency of the seal installation not being a part 3 installer
  • Risk of additional items having been placed into an escape route (such as a sofa), not having been considered at design stage, could provide fuel for a fire, and have the potential to counteract the AOV/smoke extraction system
  • Risk of incorrect replacement components having been installed
  • Risk of human intervention on ancillary assets, such as smoke detectors, impacting on asset performance
  • Risk of information on an individual asset being incomplete, inaccurate, or absent
  • Risk of information on an individual asset not being supplied in both digital and physical format
  • Risk that the asset has not been tested against the ‘Cause and Effect’ document
  • Risk of other trades and employees not appreciating the asset’s function and so compromising its performance
  • Risk of non-appreciation of the differences between performance of assets in compartmentalised areas versus performance of asset’s in shared circulation areas
  • Risk of vandalism or simply misuse
  • Risk of damage by contractors or occupants


  • Building movement / shrinkage
  • Excessive water damage
  • Some Laboratory testing not covering real-life scenarios


    • Refurbishments and upgrades
    • Failure to install properly due to lack of skill and knowledge.
    • Incorrect installation of service penetrations:
      • insufficient spacing of services (too close together)
      • not installed to manufacturers recommendations (e.g., dampers and ducts)
      • incomplete base material (e.g., no lintels in solid walls, openings in partitions not framed and lined)
      • insufficient service supports (too wide spacing, non-fire rated materials, unsuitable anchor fixings into soffit (non-fire rated, not designed for support in fire).
      • non fire rated service supports
    • In service damage/disturbance to FSDC through maintenance, replacement of services, pipe  leakage etc also has an effect on FSDC efficacy.
    • Incorrect installation of builders work holes (service openings)
    • Wrong damper for application and /or orientation
    • Incorrect builders frame to permit connection to building element
    • Damper not in line with compartment element
    • Damper not supported independently back to structure (e.g. supported by adjacent ductwork to which its attached)
    • No expansion sleeves at connections to mitigate duct expansion and thrust in event of fire causing displacement of damper from opening
    • No breakaway joints to allow duct to detach in fire
    • Installation checks not carried out (e.g., transit tape still in place locking shutter mechanism)
    • Insufficient base material preparation (e.g., no lintels in solid walls, unframed and lined openings in partition walls)
    • Inadequate and unsuitable damper and duct supports
    • Damper installed in same opening as pipes and cables
    • No maintenance programs
    • No annual testing and reset
    • Dampers not secured with tie rods etc thus distorting and affecting surrounding structure
      in a fire event
  • Inappropriate fixings- threaded rods holding up fire rated dampers with plastic washers would not be shown within the manufacturer’s guidelines
  • Incorrect aperture size will not replicate the tested product and rating

Q2. What information is needed about dampers to ensure they perform as required?

  • Base material
  • Type
    • movement of structure and services
    • environment exposure
    • service maintenance
  • Location (both space(s) and x, y, z coordinates)
  • Resistance required.
  • Intended use inputs on selection of type
  • What has been installed, by whom and when.
  • Other requirements:
    • Acoustics
    • Durability/long term resistance
    • Airtightness
    • mold resistance
    • paintability
  • Test evidence of compliance to match the intended use i.e., size of opening closure of opening when it’s a flexible wall(drywall) and be suitable for the type of services penetrating the wall or floor
  • Can damper be positioned to allow access for maintenance?
  • What damper accessories needed for compliant installation (e.g., which type of builders frame)
  • What supports are needed for continuous support during fire (e.g., fire rated channel, supports, anchors)
  • What approvals for dampers (Note CE marking will be mandatory)
  • Is design approach for damper holistic? E.g., has whole penetration been considered for restraint, differential movement in fire, deflection etc. etc.
  • Damper manufacturer approval for use in mixed penetration (e.g., see TROX)
  • Identification of use (acoustic, fire, integrity, or insulation)
  • Areas needed to be accessible for inspections
  • Limitations
  • Lifespan
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Timescales for likely upgrades or replacement
  • Presence of local security, so they cannot be tampered with or misused
  • Planned works in the building
  • As built / O&M manuals to show the locations of the fire stopping that have been installed
  • Levels of protection 30/60/90/120
  • Means of application. i.e., brick or block, around plastic pipes or within plasterboard construction
  • A true cause and effect of all active systems that are interlinked
  • Position, access from both sides (inspection and duct cleaning)
  • Check installation seals around the outside

Q3. What tasks are required to ensure dampers is installed, commissioned, inspected, and maintained properly?

(It should be a given that any work on fire safety critical assets should always be undertaken by competent people, probably 3rd party accredited. However, that person must be supported with any information that they might need to reduce the risk of an important step being missed and to provide an auditable record of what tasks were completed. This is common practice in M&E maintenance, where the industry has developed a significant library of standard procedures and tasks lists, along with roles/competency required.

An air-conditioning unit is maintained by a qualified air conditioning engineer, but the engineer is also issued with a check list for them to record what was done.

A similar industry-wide check list for installation, commissioning, handover, maintenance, and recycling could be agreed.)

  • Ongoing checking of the selected materials should be made to ensure resilience of chose FSDC solution with any maintenance/inspection procedures and regimes written into the O&M .
  • Check installers of damper and ducts accredited
  • Check base material has been constructed properly and in accordance with wall manufacturers guidelines and also the damper manufacturers guidelines and requirements
  • Check manufacturer has sufficient technical details and method statements to aide installation
  • Check manufacturer has method statement for commissioning and that there is a sign off procedure
  • Identify a suitable standard of testing, which may not be in line with current standards which may be too onerous or detrimental to the system design
  • Check what is the due diligence if something to assist in the installation is ignored
  • Check labeling
  • Ensure any trade that comes to your building is offered the fire strategy drawings and they mark the areas that they have worked on onto the drawing
  • Check that smoke control dampers are installed, commissioned and maintained by an organisation with relevant accreditation such as IFCs UKAS accredited SDI19 scheme for smoke control systems

Industry-standard maintenance instructions – extract from BESA’s SFG20.

Q4. What level of competency/training needs to be in place?

(Industry training courses are critical, but they must be complemented by additional knowledge-transfer from people with many years real experience.

Individual manufacturers have product-specific training which complements the more general training. Such training resources need to be provided in all cases where a product is used – both for new build but also as part of the long-term H&S/O&M information, ideally held as machine-readable data in the Asset information model to ensure maintenance teams have easy access to critical information.)

  • Follow latest Best Practice guidance for openings within fire rated systems
  • Use accredited installers for damper/duct installation (they must be competent to assess suitability of base material and how to support and restrain damper)
  • Use test data to determine spacings of services (including separation of duct/dampers from other service penetrants)
  • Employ 3PA accredited contractors, when using CE/UKCA/3PA products for firestop installation
  • Ensure manufacturer competency in providing
    – product training
    – technical support
    – engineering design to overcome non-standard applications.
  • Damper manufacturer must have technical competency to provide technical support for amendments/changes that may be required by site conditions
  • Any organisation that holds SDI 19 will be able to demonstrate the relevant competence of the individuals within their organisation
  • The person undertaking the work should be competent, but they should be supported with check lists for installation, commissioning, inspection/maintenance, decommissioning/replacement.

(See Appendix 4 for Additional Participant Input)

Q5.  How are the changes from one product to another recorded?

(If information is not updated, it isn’t information anymore. It is misleading and, possibly, down-right dangerous. If the systems and processes to keep information current are not trusted, then the value of even correct information is compromised.

Robust Change Management requires an information baseline against which the different states – current, proposed, final and ongoing change – can be measured and reported.

The baseline information should contain the required performance in a machine-readable/actionable form and the Change Management process should enable that to be compared with:

  1. the actual performance of the designed solution (probably generic)
  2. the performance of the chosen product against the generic
  3. the performance of an alternative (value engineered?) product
  4. the record of what was used/installed.)

Requirements and Suggestions

  • A schedule of safety critical elements for the building, to include products specified
  • Baseline against which to compare proposed alternative products (Some designers have expressed reluctance to propose (not specify) a specific manufactured product that will satisfy their design due to liability, procurement rules and fees)
  • This schedule would be “Locked” at a specific design stage, after which changes to products specified should not occur except for exceptional reasons
  • A formal change management system is required to ensure that any unavoidable changes are validated by a ‘responsible’ person e.g., original designer and/or fire engineer
  • There is a well-established change management process in construction called Technical Submissions in which requested changes from the specifications/recommendations, that were created by the designers (and selected manufacturers), need to be formally reviewed and approved. Design-and-Build procurement has affected that process and it should be reestablished in a way that the performance of a proposed product, and its constituent components, is easily compared with the proposed alternative and, if agreed, it is recorded as a Technical Deviation
  • Validation of changes would include verifying that the new product met all the requirements for the application with no detriment to the overall design, the details of which should be recorded (Changes in the product may be made between design and procurement, procurement and installation, handover, and ongoing maintenance)
  • More onus needs to be on the client during the collation of Information Requirements and the updating of design models into ‘as installed’ content suitable for Asset/Facilities Management
  • Full Disclosure of the product is needed at handover so that after Work Stage 7, if a manufacturer goes out of business or products change the record is there in perpetuity
  • Asset database must be kept up to date with core data for new installs. Installation documents should be held in a centralised digital location. Once BIM/COBie level data is manageable within the asset management system then this will be used as the main source of data.
  • BIM, CAFM, Asset and Housing management systems must inform the change management process
  • H&S files for each building (cradle to grave) must be supplied, recorded, and be updated with notification of changes and the implications.
  • Warranty information of the existing and the proposed products should be provided to allow proper consideration to be made on the selection of an alternative or replacement. If a product has a shorter life than another, this information should be available to inform selection. Given some of the products will be in locations that are difficult to locate, the longevity of a product could have safety implications.
  • Compliance systems should be informed with the information from the AIM
  • Asset tagging (barcode) systems and processes should be considered as forming part of the change management process.
  • Procurement should be included in the process, recording what was purchased and feeding that into the BIM process to locate where they were installed, or which products they are replacing.
  • Specification or design brief for the business (performance and or product) should be recorded in a machine-readable format to enable validation against the Golden Thread.
  • Record the compatibility and compliance of any ancillaries and confirm they comply with the test data? (Ironmongery, door access control systems, vision panels, vents)
  • Any adjustment, repair, addition to / removal of product, ironmongery or fittings must be recorded and should only be undertaken by a licensed / accredited contractor (this includes and modification to an existing asset)
  • The asset information needs to enable comparison but the original performance spec of the AOV and the related information such as Fire Strategy and Cause and Effect should form part of that Technical Deviation process. The FMs must be able to update the Asset Information Model with machine-readable data of the newly installed product
  • Recording who has worked on/replaced the component and their entitlement/competence to do so
  • Evidence that the component’s performance in relation to the part it plays in the system has been considered and is warranted
  • Manufacturers must provide a component list (e.g., ironmongery on a door) so if anything breaks, a direct replacement can be used.
  • Removal of certain products/materials must be undertaken by people who are on an approved list, certified by an accreditation body and should require advance notice to all certification holders, with signoff to ensure traceability

Robust Change Management requires an information baseline against which the different states – current, proposed, final and ongoing change – can be measured and reported including PIM’s and AIM’s (Project Information Models and Asset Information Models)

The baseline information should contain the required performance in a machine-readable/actionable form and the Change Management process should enable that to be compared with:

  1. the actual performance of the designed solution (probably generic)
  2. the performance of the chosen product against the generic
  3. the performance of an alternative (value engineered?) product
  4. the record of what was actually used/installed
  • Approval needs to be sought before work commences and where any changes to specification is to be made. Design and specification of FSDC is vital as not all firestopping performs the same despite appearing similar.
  • Pre-approval for change of specification before installation
  • Checking that product to be used match specification
  • Digital recording of dampers being used (photo, coding, labelling)
  • Commissioning and maintenance manuals provided and part of O&M manuals
  • Robust design control process, with detail review and change authorisation, should be within ISO 9001 process control
  • BIM models and data storage such as Fire Emergency Files need to complete in its entirety not just ‘what is available’. This could be on a local files or IT software solution or possibly on a central system. Key element is that 5/10/15/20 years down the line the relevant information is available
  • Need to audit the information to confirm that the correct holes, infill, products etc have been used
  • Product should be agreed as part of the overall design and never put as a contractor design portion. Equal and approved by the principal designer

This ISO 19650 diagram is informative

(See Appendix 5 for Additional Participant Input)


BIM4Housing Structure


Additional Participant Input Question 1a

The list below is not a complete list and I know some of the later standard numbers have changed i.e., chimneys.

  • EN 1363-1: General requirements (tests)
  • EN 1366-1: Fire Ducts
  • EN 1366-2: Fire dampers
  • EN 1366-3: Penetration seals
  • EN 1366-4: Linear joint seals
  • EN 1366-5: Service ducts and shafts
  • EN 1366-6: Raised access floors and hollow floors
  • EN 1366-8: Smoke extraction ducts
  • EN 1366-9: Smoke extraction ducts single compartment
  • EN 1366-11: Fire Cable Systems and Components
  • EN 1366-10: Smoke control dampers
  • EN 1366-19: Chimneys
  • EN 1364-1: Fire resistance tests for nonloadbearing Elements
  • EN 1364-2: Ceilings
  • EN 1364-4: Curtain walling


Additional Participant Input Question 3

Industry-standard testing & maintenance instructions – example extract from BESA’s SFG20.

Testing and reporting procedure

Testing should include but is not limited to the following steps:

  1. An inventory of all dampers to be tested.
  2. All fire/smoke dampers will be manually released to ensure the integrity of the spring-loaded shutter.
  3. The fusible link should be inspected for any deformity or damage.
  4. The fire/smoke damper will be cleaned and lubricated within the closed position.
  5. The fire/smoke damper shall then be opened and re-set.
  6. Any severe corrosion found shall be reported to the client.

Reports should include but are not limited to the following items:

  1. Test results with client information including position within the building/system, date, and name of operative shall be recorded and any comments noted if further action is required.
  2. Asset register to include damper location and ID number.
  3. Inspection results including details of failed damper operation.
  4. If drawings are provided, update and annotate details.
  5. Digital photographic evidence of damper condition prior to and after testing procedures unless otherwise specified by client.
  6. Explanation of failed operation and recommended corrective or remedial action.


An example of a fire damper tested in detail and the reliance on the wall depth, thickness

Building Deflection is the way a structural element moves under load from above. There are various types of loads that can be applied from above and these can result in the standard supporting construction required fire safe deflection heads in excess of 250mm.


Additional Participant Input Question 4

  • There is no benchmark for any qualifications or third-party certification schemes and no regulatory controls on passive fire.
  • Inspection is the first step of maintenance – so fire assets need inspection therefore they are assets – QED- you must monitor its condition and check to see if it has been disturbed
  • It is easy to keep an eye on assets that are visible – passive is generally hidden in building fabric but still needs to be viewed

it is important to have basic fire behaviour science understanding so it gives the installer / checker and understanding of when to raise a red flag

Competency / Training

Specific Actors such as Designers, Constructors, Installers, Manufacturers etc each have specific training and competencies that they need.

This section needs to identify the different Actors and the competencies needed. The focus is predominantly on Manufacturers and Installers where other Actors needs should also be addressed.


Additional Participant Input Question 5

The Golden Thread does not mean everything about a building and its history needs to be kept and updated from inception to disposal. The objective of the golden thread is building safety and therefore if information is no longer relevant to building safety, it does not need to be kept.

Models reflect both Design and Construction models with ownership and therefore liability associated with Changes made in each. Mechanism for updating models may impact on a model owners’ liability. A Designer may refuse to change a model to reflect as built as they will not take liability for a Constructor installed product. Change management along with ownership and liability needs to be reflected.

Accountable person under the new Building Safety Act

The performance of the penetration seal for trays/pipes/trunking, fire dampers, FR ducts, SE ducts, chimneys(flues) in terms of their classification is required to be verified against the classification of the wall and the requirement of the specific requirements for the purpose of the system to which they are installed. Then any change can be judged from them

Many existing buildings have been modified so that the original compliant smoke control system can no longer work and original design is invalid

For Consideration

In common areas you will have smoke control dampers, which are different to what has been called a fire and smoke damper. They have different standards and requirements, and this is badly understood at the moment. They are not well addressed in ADB BS9991 etc yet, but will be in the next incarnations, I hope – I am working there too.

There are some applications that use fire doors as smoke vents and these need defining a lot better too – again often just the leaf is provided/considered, not the whole thing and not fitted by a proper certificated installer.



Daniel England               PRP

David Peacock                TÜV SÜD

David Poat                       NottingHill Genesis

Emma Murphy               Thrive Homes

George Stevenson               ActivePlan

Ian Doncaster                 Fire And Smoke Solutions Ltd

Martin Milner                 Milner Associates

Mike Smith                      Bailey Partnership

Mustafa Alhashimi               Clarion

Nick Haughton               Sapphire Balconies Ltd

Paul McSoley                  Mace

Paul Oakley                     ActivePlan

Paul White                      Ventilation Fire Smoke Ltd

Sue Wilbraham              Metropolitan Thames Valley