A damper is either a plate or a valve that helps regulate the air flow in air-handling equipment such as chimneys, ducts, central air conditioning units, and the like. A damper can be as simple as the plate that covers the air duct in a bedroom and can be opened or closed manually, or it can be as complex as a climate-control panel.
A fire damper is a damper specifically designed to stop the spread of fire through floors, partitions, and walls. A fire damper is an automatic damper made of galvanized steel. The device is usually set to close at a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. There are two main types of fire dampers, dynamic and standard fire dampers. Standard fire dampers are fire dampers that simply closes once an alarm, such as a fire alarm is set off. A Dynamic fire damper is a fire damper that will stay open even after an alarm such as a fire alarm is set off and will only close based on temperature.
A zone damper is a damper that controls one zone, like a room, floor or section of a building. Zone dampers are a part of full air-handler systems like those seen on the roofs of most multistory buildings. Zone dampers are also automatic dampers, which means that they open and close to impede or allow air flow on their own. The advantages of zone dampers are that they are not very expensive, they don't consume a whole lot of energy, and they are simple systems that are easy to maintain. The disadvantage to zone dampers is that they are not always reliable.
Multi-zone dampers, otherwise called multiple air handlers or multiple furnace dampers, are like zone dampers except they control multiple zones or areas like rooms, floors, or sections of a building. The advantage of multi-zone dampers is that even when one damper fails, the rest continue to function with little to no effect to the air within the zone that the multi-zone damper controls. The disadvantages of multi-zone dampers are that they are more expensive and consume more power than zone dampers.