Fire dampers are a critical safety product, but often overlooked on smaller vessels, a marine supply company has said.

Fire damper

Fire dampers are only mandatory for ships above 500GT. Image: BSB Engineering

Described as ‘a device installed in air transfer ducts and designed to close automatically on the detection of excessive heat’, fire dampers are only mandatory for ships above 500GT, said Andy Scott, managing director of Poole-based Marine Components International.

However, he added that small vessels are now beginning to carry them as newbuilds or install them as retrofits.

The metal construction and tightly fitting blades ensure that any fire, or smoke, is prevented from moving from one compartment to the next, buying more time for firefighting and evacuation.

The most basic types consist of a steel frame in which there are a set of articulating metal blades. In normal operation, these are held open by a spring with a fusible link, usually rated somewhere between 165oF to 286oF. However, when a specified temperature is reached, the heat burns through the link and the blades snap shut.

The dampers are installed in a heating, ventilation or air conditioning (HVAC) duct at – or very near – the point where it passes through a fire-resistant bulkhead. The ideal location is actually embedded in the bulkhead itself where it can create a fireproof seal, so if the ducting falls away, the damper remains solidly in place.

Marine Components International has recently been given the global distribution rights for the A60 rated fire dampers produced by BSB Engineering.

By Rebecca Jeffrey