What is a Fire Curtain?
A fire curtain is a specially constructed curtain that deploys or unfurls from a ceiling to block an opening and stop the spread of fire and smoke between two areas.
Compartmentation is another relevant term to know. A fire curtain creates compartmentation, which is a vital part of the fire safety design of a building and divides large spaces into smaller, more manageable ones during a fire.
Fire Curtains Save Lives and Property
Fire curtains have two primary purposes.
First and foremost, fire curtains act as a guide to safety, allowing people access to protected escape routes. They also limit smoke entry into these routes, so smoke inhalation is greatly minimized. Thus, people are directed away from fire and along a secure path to safety.
Secondly, fire curtains maintain the compartmentation within buildings to limit the spread of fire and smoke. Corridors and shafts are protected with fire curtains, which can be draped both vertically and horizontally while maintaining their fire resistance integrity. It is understandable that fire curtains are also called safety curtains.
Fire curtains were first developed for theaters. The first patented fire curtain was the automatic self-closing fire curtains in 1904. Fire curtains are intended to restrict the movement of heat, flames, gases, and smoke from the stage area spreading into the audience area while the audience was being safely evacuated.
A fire curtain un-rolls from a top box, and therefore is constructed like a roller shutter. It vertically deploys and descends as it unrolls. Because they are made of woven fiberglass material, fire curtains are more flexible and compact. They can be more closely fitted within a space and therefore provide better compartmentation.
Fire curtains are ideal for lobbies, hatches, and stairwells, where there is limited space. When fire curtains are included in the initial design of a building, they can be recessed into walls and ceilings, leaving little indication that the curtain is there. Sometimes fire curtains are added later to buildings and can be blended into the decor, creating a decorative and unobtrusive wall of fabric.
Underwriters Laboratories and the National Fire Protection Association have several codes that apply to fire curtains. The most critical are UL 10D, UL 1874, and NFPA 80. Codes and standards currently in place include draft fire curtain applications for areas such as escalators, stair openings, warehouse storage areas, as well as many more.
US Smoke and Fire: we are pioneers in fire protective smoke curtains
It is best to check with the experts at US Smoke and Fire for up to date building codes and regulations concerning fire safety, and all protective measures such as fire curtains. This is our area of expertise and we are here to help.