As a fire and life safety company, we talk a lot about the different ways to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through a facility’s passive fire protection systems. However, we don’t talk a lot about the different ways of preventing a fire from starting in the first place. For the most part, fire prevention seems pretty obvious and straight forward. For example, never leaving cooking unattended, fixing damaged electronics and disposing cigarettes in a safe manner all seem so obvious. But what about the less obvious ways, like cleaning ducts in your facility?
When thinking about fire prevention tactics, duct cleaning to prevent a fire from starting is probably not the first thing you would think about. Not to mention, ducts are typically hidden above the ceiling, so they are always out of sight. But there is more than just ducts above a facility’s ceiling. There are mechanical systems, structural elements, wires and anything else that would be hidden above the ceiling. And with work from insulation, firestopping as well as construction, dust can easily build up quick.
Accumulated dust can pose as a fire hazard. Dust is flammable and a fire can start from a spark of energy, or an extremely hot surface. The more dust build up there is, the more chances there are for a fire to happen. According to NFPA 654, annex D states that cleaning is needed immediately “whenever a dust layer of 1/32- inch thickness accumulates over a surface area of at least 5% of the floor area of the facility or any given room.” The same rule applies when it comes to cleaning a facility’s ductwork.
Although duct cleaning may not be the first thing you think about in fire prevention, it is important to clean your facility’s ducts. Not only does cleaning ducts help reduce the risk of a fire from starting, but it improves airflow in your facility’s HVAC system. All dust can be a fire hazard, and by cleaning your facility’s ducts, you are preventing dust from accumulating. By preventing dust from accumulating, you are ultimately helping to reduce the chances of a fire from starting.