What is a fire curtain?
Smoke and fire curtains are typically automated, and drop down when a fire alarm panel or smoke/heat detector is activated. To provide protection, they are fitted to the exact measurements of a specific area. All non-domestic buildings are required to operate in a fire safe manner, using fire curtains where appropriate. Automatic fire curtains are increasingly being used in place of fire doors or shutters to unobtrusively maintain fire separation in buildings.
5 steps to a successful fire curtain installation
Whilst fire curtain installation is fairly simple there are some pitfalls to watch out for:
- Before ordering the equipment needed, you should ensure you have a thorough knowledge of the site and that you have accurate measurements.
Know the cause and effect: Will you need to provide two stage curtain drops or delayed drops to allow egress from the area?
When you arrive on site, buy the ceiling contractor a coffee!! It’s an unusual recommendation but he will need to be your “best friend” throughout the installation.
Use a laser! Accuracy is everything when setting out.
Finally, if you need to make any alterations to the curtain whilst on site…..
"Measure Twice, Cut Once"
How Fire Contractors determine the best choice of fire curtain
The main purpose of fire and smoke curtains is to prevent or slow down the ingress of fire and smoke into other areas of a building and are often used in place of heavy and intrusive fire doors. The curtains should enclose or canalise smoke and/or fire to prevent it from spreading. In combination with smoke and heat exhaust systems, fire and smoke curtains help keep emergency and escape routes clear.
Mike Washbourne, Easivent’s in-house fire curtain expert explains how Fire Contractors determine the best choice of fire curtain.
Everything you need to know about protecting lifts with fire curtains
Could I just install a smoke curtain?
Simply put, the answer is no. Believe it or not even if smoke curtains are certified to EN 12101-1 they are not tested to provide any form of smoke seal even if they are installed with side guides.
How do fire curtains work?
The curtain fabric would be wound around a steel roller in the curtain head box.
If they come down with no power how can escaping occupants get past?
Emergency egress buttons can be installed on the lift side of the curtain which allow occupants to raise the curtain when required.
What does the builder need to provide to install this type of fire curtain?
The builder needs to provide a suitable opening for the fire curtain and a way of integrating the steel head box and side guides.
Things to consider when replacing compartment walls with fire curtains
Removing compartment walls and replacing them with fire curtains could provide more work for Fire Contractors.
It is a common desire to create atria and other open spaces in large buildings by removing multiple small areas, however this has a negative impact on fire compartmentation. Fire curtains are an ideal solution when compartment walls are removed - but is installing fire curtains alone enough to maintain safe conditions in a fire?
The answer in short, is yes. Ensuring the curtain you’re installing provides the same (if not better) fire and radiated heat protection than the wall or partition being removed should guarantee safe conditions in a fire.