Fire Shutters Buyers Guide

Fire Shutters Buyers Guide

Are you looking to Buy or Specify a Fire Shutter?

When purchasing a fire shutter it is important that that product requested is based on your building's Fire Risk Assessment. If you are not sure then please speak to the person responsible for doing the buildings assessment or your local fire officer or Building Control. Below are some common questions we get asked, from people wanting to buy a fire shutter.

1) Is the fire shutter getting installed over a Window, Door or Servery?

If the fire shutter is fitted over a doorway, servery or any opening that people could go underneath, then the fire shutter must be fitted an Anti Drop Brake. This is designed to prevent the shutter curtain free-falling if the motor fails.

2) Is the opening classed as a “Means of Escape”?

A “Means of Escape” can be defined as the structural means whereby a safe route is provided for people to travel from any location in a building or structure to a place of safety without the need of outside assistance.

If the fire shutter is getting fitted over a “Means of Escape”, then we would advise the following controls, but it's important to refer to your Site-specific Fire Risk Assessment.

- Independent Heat Detector

– The shutter will only close if the area around the shutter becomes hotter than 70oC. If it is this hot around the opening it is deemed that it's too hot to walk through the opening.

- Audio Visual Warning

– Fitted on both sides of the shutter, provided warning that the shutter is closing.

- Emergency Escape Button, so if someone becomes trapped behind the shutter, they press a Green Button and the shutter will raise, so they can escape.

3) What is the purpose of the Fire Shutter?

Fire Break – To prevent the spread of fire. This is what a fire shutters are designed to do.

Refuge – To protect an area from fire. This may require an insulated fire shutter, to reduce the radiated heat of the fire, through the shutter.

Smoke Barrier – To prevent the lateral spread of smoke. Fire shutters are not designed to prevent the spread of smoke. You would need to look at a smoke curtain if this is required.

4) Can I have a Manual Fire Shutter?

No, you can’t have a Manually operated fire shutter. The problem with a Manual Fire Shutter, is that they used to have a very heavy weighted bottom bar, so it could drop the curtain under its own steam. This made it very heavy to operate on a daily basis, so they were only designed to stay in the up position at all times. The other issue with a Manual Fire Shutter, is that you are relying on someone closing the shutter, whilst evacuating the building under a fire activation.The Fire Shutters today are all electric operation and connected to a fire alarm. The advantage of this is the shutter can be operated on a daily basis for security and if the fire alarm is activated the shutter will automatically close.

5) Do I need a Compact or Industrial fire shutter?

Both the Compact Fire Shutter and Industrial Fire Shutters are tested and certfied to the same standards, the main difference is the box size. On a standard door height opening, the compact shutter would have a 300mm x 300mm shutter box. The industrial shutter would be 300mm x 500mm (Motor Side). On smaller opening, the large box on the industrial shutter looks big and out of place. The compact fire shutters are the most popular type of fire shutters, due to the compact box and are neater in design.For a larger opening over 6m wide, then an industrial would be the better option, as we can use bigger industrial motors to lift the heavy door.

6) What can the fire shutter be fixed into?

The fire shutter is tested and certified if installed into Masonry or 6mm structural steel. Any other substrates may not be certified and/or capable of supporting the weight of the shutter.If the fire shutter cannot be fitted to masonry or steel, then you will need to speak to your local fire officer or building control office, to see if they will sign off the installation. The structure must be able to carry the weight of the shutter (Approx. 25kgs/m2) and enable us to get a minimum thread bearing of 6mm.

7) Does the fire shutter have to be connected into a Fire Alarm?

The fire shutter MUST close automatically on fire alarm activation. You can do this by connecting the fire shutter into the Fire Alarm system. If a fire alarm system is not available then it can be connected into a local independent heat detector.When the fire shutter is fitted over a means of escape, then the shutter MUST be connected into a localised heat detector. A heat detector is designed to activate when the temperature reaches 57oC or 90oC. If it is this hot around the opening, then it is highly unlikely you would walk through this opening.

8) Do I need an Audio/Visual Warning Panel?

If the fire shutter is connected into the alarm system, the shutter will automatically close on fire alarm activation. Are people expecting the shutter to automatically close? Do people need warning, so they can move themselves or items out of the way?

When a fire alarm activates the fire shutter, the Audio/Visual panels beeps and lights up “Fire Shutter Closing”. You can also have a slave panel fitted on the other side of the opening, so people on both sides of the opening are warned.

9) Do I need staged descent?

Do you need the shutter to partly close for a set time and then fully close? This could be to provide a smoke barrier or provide a chance for people to escape.The audio/visual panels have the facility of staged descent. If this facility is required, then what level do you want it to close too and for what period of time?

10) Do I need an Emergency Escape Button?

This is a Green push button that is fitted on one side of the shutter. If the shutter closes by the fire alarm and someone gets trapped behind the shutter, they can press the button and the shutter will open and then auto close.

11) Can you have safety devices fitted to a fire shutter?

Normally if the shutter has automated closing, you would have some form of safety device. This could be a rubber safety edge, which if it hits something the shutter stops. You can't have a rubber safety edge on a fire shutter. The alternative is to have Photo Electric Cells, fitted on both sides of the shutters. A beam is sent across the opening to a reflector, that reflects the beam back to the sensor. If the beam is broken, the shutter will stop. The problem with PEC is they can be unreliable, as the sensors get knocked out of alignment or the reflector gets dirty and stops reflecting.

The main purpose of a fire shutter is to close and protect the building, so it will override any safety devices. We can install PEC, but if the shutter is prevented from closing by the PEC, it will still close after several attempts.

12) Can I have the fire shutter painted a colour?

The standard finish on a Fire Shutter, is Galvanised which is metallic silver. Galvanised finish is an industrial-looking finish. We can powder coat the fire to any BS or RAL colour to compliment the colour scheme.

If you have a specific colour that you require, then speak to our sales team.If you need any help or advice, then please contact our Sales Team. We are more than happy to help you find the correct product for your application.

To look at our Fire Shutter range CLICK HERE.