Even if you have heard of fire curtains and smoke barriers, it is easy to become confused by the technical specifications and terminology that surround them. We hope to explain in simple language what a fire curtain is and most importantly, why they are needed.
Put simply, a fire curtain is a specially constructed curtain that descends from the ceiling to block an opening and stop fire and smoke spreading between two areas. In larger structures, several fire curtains are used which divide the building into ‘fire compartments’ when there is a fire.
This is called ‘compartmentation’ and is a fundamental element of passive fire protection in buildings. It helps to:
Provide time for people to escape
Protect escape routes
Allow time people for firefighting services to arrive
Structure of a Fire Curtain
A fire curtain is similar to a metal roller shutter in that it descends vertically as it un-rolls from a ‘top box’, however because a fire curtain is made of a woven fiber glass material, it is much more flexible and compact.
This means a curtain can be more closely fitted within a space and therefore provides much better compartmentation.
The compact construction of fire curtains makes them an ideal choice for lobbies, hatches and stairwells where there is limited space. When included in the design stage of a building, they can be recessed into walls and ceilings leaving a thin slit as the only indication that the curtain is there.
There are several types of fire curtain:
Automatic Fire curtains – Most non-static fire curtains are in fact automatic. They are linked to the fire alarm system so they automatically descend when there is a fire.
Static Fire Curtains – Also called fixed fire curtains, these curtains are permanently in place and are used to provide compartmentation in open spaces such as warehouses or lofts.
Insulated Fire Curtains – These curtains provide extra insulation and allow people to pass by much closer to the curtain without being affected by the heat of the fire on the other side.
Certification and Standards
All fire curtains must be rigorously tested and certified. These standards ensure that the integrity of a curtain will remain for a certain minimum length of time and that they will continue to work in the extreme conditions of a fire.
A fire curtain is used where, if there is a fire, it is necessary to create a temporary barrier within an opening that seals off the area on fire. The curtain descends and prevents any fire and smoke from spreading from one area to another. It also allows people access to protected escape routes without any loss of fire resistance.
Features and benefits
No power needed to operate it – fire curtain unwinds to its operational position under the influence of gravity in a “gravity fail-safe” manner without the need for power.
Compact and low in weight – fire curtain is lightweight and compact, which enables it to be installed easily in a place with space constraints such as a false ceiling. Such a roller fire curtain is much more unobtrusive than a roller shutter with a comparable performance.
Virtually invisible when rolled up - There are no visible fixings either on the underside of the head box or on the bottom bars. The head box, the bottom bar and the side guides can be powder-coated to a RAL color to blend in with the building.
The guide rails can be easily and unobtrusively recessed into the structure of the building.
The head boxes are among the most compact on the market.
Easy to install and maintain - A FM-1 fire curtain is delivered in modular form and as such is easy to install. The bottom of the head box is closed off with a panel which also allows the entire length of the system to be accessed for servicing.
Design service - We provide a bespoke design service for fire curtains that includes a pre-design service and stress-free project management throughout your project, ensuring the system is up and running perfectly.
Service and maintenance - Once your system is installed we offer you peace of mind in the form of total service and parts support through our service division.
For more information relating to the application, specification, and installation and servicing of this product contact us.