Functional Testing Guidance Fire and Smoke Control Systems




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Functional Testing Guidance Fire and Smoke Control Systems

This functional testing guidance is designed to aid in developing test procedures for a specific project by describing the steps involved in testing. The guidance should be adapted as necessary to address the control sequences, configuration, and performance requirements of the particular system being tested. Additionally, codes may require specific testing procedures that may not be addressed in this document. All tests based on this guidance should be reviewed carefully to ensure that they are complete and appropriate.

Test Procedure: Fire and Smoke Control Systems

Overview

The objective of testing Fire and Smoke Control Systems is to ensure that each of the components of the system is working correctly, and that they work together as a system to:



  • detect fire events

  • prevent smoke migration and circulation

  • maintain proper pressurization of building spaces(including stairwells and elevator shafts)

  • control fans and damper appropriately to achieve design engineered smoke cycle

System Description

A fire and smoke control system includes a wide array of individual components, subsystems, or related systems including: supply and return duct dampers, isolation dampers, fire and smoke dampers and actuators, normal and emergency power for dampers, temperature response devices (switches), supply and return fans, fan controllers and actuators, freezestat, stairwell doors, static pressure sensors, fan safeties and interlocks.

The testing guidance described below applies to fire-smoke control systems. Code requirements for most buildings necessitate the installation of fire and/or smoke dampers, along with automatic closure of the devices upon detection of either heat or smoke. Depending on the type and size of the facility, an engineered smoke control cycle can range from simply turning off HVAC systems during an event to an elaborate smoke containment/evacuation control strategy. Other specialized control strategies like stairwell pressurization may also be required by code.

Test Equipment

Heat gun and a digital or infra-red thermometer



Example Test

The following test form was created using this guidance document. It is available at www.ftguide.org/ftct/testdir.htm.



  • Combination Fire and Smoke Damper Test. ID#: 1018

Test Procedure Outline

1. Preparation


    1. Create a test form

1.2 Determine acceptance criteria

1.3 Provide instructions/precautions

1.4 Specify participants and roles/responsibilities

2. Fire-Smoke Damper Test


2.1 Verify all fire-smoke damper prefunctional checklists are complete

2.2 Verify system operates as intended under both normal and emergency power

2.3 Verify dampers operate properly

2.4 Verify damper position indicator switches operate properly

2.5 Verify temperature response device(s) operate properly

3. Engineered Smoke Control Cycle Test


3.1 Verify all component prefunctional checklists are complete

3.2 Verify proper sequence of operation

3.3 Verify proper operation of the smoke control cycle

4. Stairwell Pressurization Test


4.1 Verify all component prefunctional checklists are complete

4.2 Verify proper sequence of operation


5. Elevator Shaft Pressurization Test


5.1 Verify all component prefunctional checklists are complete

5.2 Verify proper sequence of operation



Test Procedures

1. Preparation

1.1 Create a test form. Testing will be easier if the test procedure is thought through and documented before conducting the test. Developing a test form will assist in data collection and subsequent evaluation, as well as allow less experienced staff to execute the test.

1.2 Determine acceptance criteria. Acceptance criteria are based on physical characteristics of the fire and smoke dampers, as well as proper sequence of operations for engineered smoke control cycles and zone pressurization control strategies.

1.3 Provide instructions/precautions. If performing the test during subfreezing atmospheric conditions, ensure proper care is taken to prevent freezing of the system(s) when verifying system operation. Be sure to have an emergency “exit” strategy in place should the test need to be aborted prior to completion. If a test fails, the source of the failure should be identified and conveyed to the proper authority. The system should be retested once the repairs are complete.

1.4 Specify participants and roles/responsibilities. The testing guidance provided in this document can assist in verifying proper system performance in both new construction and existing building applications. At a minimum, the following people should participate in the testing process. Refer to the Functional Testing Basics section of the Functional Test Guide for a description of the general role and responsibility of the respective participant throughout the testing process. The roles and responsibilities should be customized based on actual project requirements.



New Construction Project

Existing Building Project

Commissioning Provider

Commissioning Provider

Mechanical Contractor

Building Operating Staff

Control Contractor

Controls Contractor

Fire/Life Safety Inspector

Fire/Life Safety Inspector

Electrical Contractor





2. Fire-Smoke Damper Test

2.1 Verify all fire-smoke damper prefunctional checklists are complete. Prior to performing any functional tests, the commissioning pre-start, start-up, and verification checklists and applicable manufacturer's pre-start and start-up recommendations should be completed.

Prefunctional checklist items include, but are not limited to, the following:

2.1.1 Damper assemblies are installed per contract documents and manufacturer's installation instructions.

2.1.2 Control system point-to-point checkout is complete to ensure all damper input/output points are wired correctly.

2.1.3 Normal power, and emergency if applicable, is provided to each damper assembly at proper voltage.

2.1.4 Damper assembly is clean of any construction debris, dirt, or other foreign materials.

2.1.5 Damper assembly does not appear to be askew, twisted, or misaligned in any way that could prevent proper damper movement.

2.1.6 Access to damper assembly and all components is acceptable for testing, maintenance, and replacement.

2.1.7 Location of each damper assembly is clearly and correctly located on as-built drawings.

2.1.8 The fan system and the normal and emergency power panel/circuit associated with each damper are fully documented.

2.2 Verify system operates as intended under both normal and emergency power. Many systems will be designed to operate under both normal power and emergency power. When testing system operation under emergency power, it is best to disconnect normal building power at the main service disconnect to simulate true emergency power operating conditions. Attempt to coordinate all other emergency power tests for the same time to minimize runtime on emergency generators.

Check the following:

2.2.1 Damper is open fully when normal power is applied.

2.2.2 Damper closes fully and tightly when power is removed.

2.2.3 Damper opens fully when emergency power is applied.

2.3 Verify proper damper operation. The smoke damper may be utilized in either a "passive" or "engineered" smoke control cycle. The passive cycle is when the damper is closed to prevent smoke from migrating through the duct across a smoke barrier and the supply fan is typically shut off. An engineered smoke cycle actively controls various dampers and fans to contain smoke within the event zone.

To verify individual damper operation for a passive smoke cycle, check the following:

2.3.1 Supply fan, and return/relief fan if applicable, shuts OFF when smoke event is triggered.

2.3.2 All smoke dampers close tightly when smoke event is triggered.

2.3.3 Fan and damper response time is acceptable per local codes.

Note of precaution- Depending on the response time of individual components, static pressure within the duct may exceed design limits and possibly result in a catastrophic failure. Ensure the smoke control strategy is sequenced to prevent physical damage to fans, dampers, ducts, or other equipment.

2.4 Verify damper position indicator switches operate properly. Each damper may have an optional device that contains a single pole, double throw switch to indicate damper blade position. The "open" or "closed" contacts typically provide proof of position back to a central fire control station. This feature is typically only available on smoke or combined fire-smoke dampers. Ensure all supply fans are commanded OFF before conducting the test.

Tests should be performed to verify the following:

2.4.1 Damper position indicator is wired to correct inputs at fire control panel and correspond to correct blade position.

2.4.2 Damper indicator displays correctly when damper position is commanded manually, controlled automatically, and under emergency power (if applicable).

2.5 Verify temperature response device(s) operate properly. A fire or combined fire-smoke damper will shut the damper automatically when temperature exceeds the installed closure device fixed temperature setting. Closure devices include: fusible links, resettable links, and single or multiple temperature switches (temperature switch devices typically associated with combined fire-smoke dampers). A fusible link is a metallic device located in the air stream that melts at a specific temperature and allows the damper to shut. A resettable link operates on the same principle but is located on the exterior of the damper assembly for ease of resetting. Ensure all supply fans are commanded OFF before testing fusible or resettable links. Temperature switch devices are typically arranged with one or two switches. A one-switch arrangement consists of a primary temperature sensor (typically rated for 165°F or 212°F) wired in series with the actuator motor. When temperature exceeds setpoint, the circuit opens and the damper closes and remains closed until the temperature switch resets. In a two-switch configuration, both the primary and secondary (typically rated for 250°F or 350°F) switches are wired in series with the damper actuator, but the primary switch can be by-passed, allowing the damper to be commanded manually. Once the secondary switch trips, the damper closes and remains closed until the switch resets.

Depending on system configuration, consider verifying the following:

2.5.1 Ensure all supply fans are commanded OFF prior to initiating the test.

2.5.2 Verify that wiring is correct to each temperature switch. This is especially critical if there are two temperature switches to ensure the primary switch is by-passed, if applicable, and not the secondary switch.

2.5.3 Verify that primary and/or secondary temperature switch(es) function properly when heated beyond setpoint. This may require the use of a heat gun and a digital or infra-red thermometer to determine actual temperature. For the most part, this is more of a "ball park" check (did the 165°F switch trip around 100°F or upwards of 200°F) rather than a rigorous calibration check. It is advisable to "sample" test the dampers, if acceptable by local code, since this can be a very difficult test to perform.

2.5.4 Location of the temperature switch(es) may be either outside or inside the duct, which makes access critical. There must be sufficient room around each component in order to inspect, test, and replace if necessary. If the devices are located inside the duct, the access door must be sufficiently large and close enough to the damper assembly to allow inspection, testing, and replacement to occur. These issues must be addressed during design as well as verified continually during construction to ensure that access remains acceptable.

2.5.5 Remove the links from dampers with either fusible or resettable links to verify that they operate as intended. Access is especially critical when testing fusible links because the dampers must be reset manually and the link must be replaced. Having an access door large and close enough to the damper assembly to complete the task is paramount. This issue must be addressed during design as well as verified continually during construction to ensure that access remains acceptable.



3. Engineered Smoke Control Cycle Test

3.1 Verify all component prefunctional checklists are complete. An engineered smoke control cycle is designed to prevent the migration of smoke by maintaining air pressure differentials between the event zone and rest of the building. Typically the pressure differentials are created by actively controlling various smoke dampers and the building's HVAC system and/or dedicated fans. Prior to performing any functional tests, the commissioning pre-start, start-up, and verification checklists on all fan systems and dampers should be completed, as well as applicable manufacturer's pre-start and start-up recommendations.

Prefunctional checklist items include, but are not limited to, the following:

3.1.1 HVAC systems and/or dedicated fan systems are installed per contract documents and manufacturer's installation instructions.

3.1.2 Control system point-to-point checkout is complete to ensure all fan and damper input/output points are wired correctly.

3.1.3 Normal power, and emergency if applicable, is provided to each fan and damper assembly at proper voltage.

3.1.4 All fan systems have been balanced per the contract documents.

3.1.5 All central air handling units and zone-level terminal units are functional and programmed correctly to ensure proper execution of the smoke control cycle.

3.1.6 All safeties and interlocks, especially duct pressure relief door/dampers, are installed and function per contract documents.

3.2 Verify proper sequence of operation. The sequence of operations for individual smoke control cycles will vary depending on the application. In most systems, all air handling units will shut down and smoke dampers will close upon an alarm condition. Operation of individual fans and dampers is then initiated manually by fire personnel or the "authorized operator" of the smoke control management system. In most engineered smoke control cycles, individual fire-smoke dampers may be required to operate when air is still flowing across the damper assembly.

This operating condition generates many issues that should be addressed as early as possible in the design process, including:

3.2.1 Specifying dynamic closure rating of all fire-smoke dampers (if applicable).

3.2.2 Reviewing all aspects of the desired smoke control cycle to determine if any combination of operating conditions would result in duct velocities rising higher than the dynamic closure rating of any damper. System design or sequence of operations may need to be altered to alleviate potential operational problems.

3.2.3 Considering use of the dynamic braking feature of the supply fan VFD in order to slow the speed of the fan down quickly during initial system shut-down so that fire-smoke dampers that are not designed to operate against an air flow will not have operational problems.

3.3 Verify proper operation of the smoke control cycle. Initiate an event signal and verify the following:

3.3.1 All HVAC fans shut OFF and all smoke dampers close.

3.3.2 All individual fans (HVAC and/or dedicated systems) and dampers respond appropriately to the desired positions when commanded.

3.3.3 Pressure differentials are maintained (measure pressure differential between event zone and adjacent zones to ensure this). The control strategy may stipulate fan VFD speed and individual VAV box damper positions for the pressurized zones, each of which may need to be adjusted and balanced during commissioning in order to maintain proper pressure differentials under all operating conditions.



Note - that stack effect; wind speed and direction and outdoor temperature may all influence measured pressures and system balance.

3.3.4 Virtually every engineered smoke control cycle requires that air handling units bring in 100% outside air in order to pressurize zones surrounding the event zone. The following precautions will help minimize potential problems or catastrophic failures during testing:



  • Most codes require that the freezestat safety be by-passed when an air handling unit is in smoke control mode. Hence the pre-heat and/or heating coil(s), as well as the heating system, must be functioning in order to prevent the cooling coil from freezing if the smoke control cycle is tested during sub-freezing conditions. Note that most pre-heat or heating coils are typically not sized to handle 100% sub-freezing outside air, hence coil size should be checked during design review to ensure the coils will be big enough to at least prevent the unit from freezing during an actual smoke control management event.

  • Along the same lines, if the smoke control cycle is tested during extremely hot conditions, the cooling coil(s) as well as the entire cooling system must be functioning in order to prevent the space temperature from getting out of control. Elevated building temperatures during testing could have adverse impact on workers, equipment, or building materials.

4. Stairwell Pressurization Test

4.1 Verify all component prefunctional checklists are complete. As the name implies, the intent is to prevent smoke from migrating into the stairwell during occupant egress by pressurizing the stairwell with respect to the rest of the building. Typically the pressure differentials are created by actively controlling dedicated supply fans and dampers (if applicable) to supply the stairwell with 100% outdoor air. Prior to performing any functional tests, the commissioning pre-start, start-up, and verification checklists on all fan systems and dampers should be completed, as well as applicable manufacturer's pre-start and start-up recommendations.

Prefunctional checklist items include, but not limited to, the following:

4.1.1. Fan systems and dampers (if applicable) are installed per contract documents and manufacturer's installation instructions.

4.1.2 Control system point-to-point checkout is complete to ensure all fan and damper input/output points are wired correctly.

4.1.3 Normal power, and emergency if applicable, is provided to each fan and damper assembly at proper voltage.

4.1.4 All fan systems have been balanced per the contract documents.

4.1.5 All safeties and interlocks, especially fan status and high pressure cut-out, are installed and function per contract documents.

4.2 Verify proper sequence of operation. The sequence of operations for individual stairwell pressurization systems will vary depending on the application and design (non-compensated or compensated). In virtually all systems, isolation dampers will open (if applicable) and supply fan will be commanded ON automatically upon an event signal. A non-compensated system is where supply air is provided by a single-speed fan and the pressure differential varies depending on the number of doors open. A compensated system adjusts to any combination of door openings by maintaining positive pressure differential across the openings. Systems compensate for changing conditions by either modulating air flow or relieving excess pressure from the stairwell. A compensated pressurization system will have more components (sensors, relief dampers, VFDs, etc.) and control sequences that will need to be verified.

In order to test proper operation of the stairwell pressurization system (both non-compensated and compensated), initiate an event signal and perform the following:

4.2.1 Ensure all isolation dampers are open (if applicable) and supply fans turn ON.

4.2.2 Measure and record pressure differential across each stairwell door with all doors closed. Measured pressure differential should exceed value required by code. Note that stack effect; wind speed and direction; and outdoor temperature may all influence measured pressures and system balance.

4.2.3 Measure and record the force needed to open one door using a spring scale. Hold door open and measure the pressure differential across each stairwell door again. Measured door opening force should not exceed code, while pressure differential across remaining doors should meet or exceed code.

4.2.4 Continuing from above, open the required number of doors one at a time, measuring and recording the force needed to open each door respectively, and the pressure differential across the remaining stairwell doors. Measured door opening force should not exceed code, while pressure differential across remaining doors should meet or exceed code requirements.

4.2.5 With all required doors open, determine direction of air flow across each door opening. Verify that air flows from the stairwell to the occupied space.

4.2.6 For compensated systems, follow the same procedures as described above but with slightly different acceptance criteria. That is, the design stairwell pressure setpoint should be maintained throughout the test and the response time of the control algorithm must be checked. The response time of the pressurization control loop should not allow short-term pressure values to fall below the value required by code.



5. Elevator Shaft Pressurization Test

5.1 Verify all component prefunctional checklists are complete. As the name implies, the intent is to prevent smoke from migrating into the elevator shaft by pressurizing the shaft with respect to the rest of the building. Typically the pressure differentials are created by actively controlling dedicated supply fans and isolation dampers (if applicable) to supply the elevator shaft with 100% outdoor air. Prior to performing any functional tests, the commissioning pre-start, start-up, and verification checklists on all fan systems and dampers should be completed, as well as applicable manufacturer's pre-start and start-up recommendations.

Prefunctional checklist items include, but are not limited to, the following:

5.1.1 Fan systems and isolation dampers (if applicable) are installed per contract documents and manufacturer's installation instructions.

5.1.2 Control system point-to-point checkout complete to ensure all fan and damper input/output points are wired correctly.

5.1.3 Normal power, and emergency if applicable, is provided to each fan and damper assembly at proper voltage.

5.1.4 All fan systems have been balanced per the contract documents.

5.1.5 All safeties and interlocks, especially fan status and high pressure cut-out, are installed and function per contract documents.

5.2 Verify proper sequence of operation. Typically, isolation dampers will open (if applicable) and supply fan will be commanded ON automatically upon an event signal.

In order to test proper operation of the elevator shaft pressurization system, initiate an event signal and verify the following:

5.2.1 All isolation dampers open (if applicable) and supply fans turn ON.

5.2.2 The pressure differential exceeds the value required by code. (Measure and record pressure differential across each elevator door with all doors closed.) Note that stack effect; wind speed and direction; and outdoor temperature may all influence measured pressures and system balance.



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