News & Events

Fire Shutters & Fire Curtains - Everything You Need to Know

4th January 2024

Understanding Fire Shutters and Fire Curtains

Fire shutters and fire curtains are designed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke in large or complex buildings, providing a safe passage for occupants to escape and limiting property damage. A smoke curtain can be particularly effective in containing smoke and ensuring safety.

While both serve the same essential purpose, they differ in synthetic and treated materials, functionality, and aesthetics. Comprehending these contrasts paves the way for a well-informed decision on the best fit for your business.

Fire Shutters

A fire-rated shutter, made of galvanised steel, offers dual benefits - fire resistance and security. Fire shutters have varying fire protection ratings, including one-hour, two-hour and four-hour. They are similar to fire doors in function but have added advantages like blending seamlessly into the building’s design with high-quality powder-coated finishes and providing reliable security for an aperture. A fire door, on the other hand, focuses primarily on fire resistance.

Every fire-rated roller shutter is tested for its fire resistance level in accordance with BS EN 16034:2014. The ratings range from 60-240 minutes. Although they offer robust protection, you cannot overlook their weight and space requirements during installation.

Fire Curtains

Fire curtains are designed to compartmentalise fires and protect escape routes, made of flame-resistant fabric. They are lightweight and discreet, making them suitable for various building types and designs. When not in use, fire curtains blend into the surroundings by rolling into a small overhead box, making them virtually invisible and aesthetically pleasing. In addition to fire curtains, smoke curtains also play a crucial role in fire safety.

Typically installed in receptions and staircases, fire curtains are especially beneficial in hospitals and other buildings where traditional fire doors or shutters may not be suitable. They are also utilised in modern, open plan offices and buildings where fire doors are not an option.

Installation Considerations

Installation of fire shutters or fire curtains necessitates careful consideration of space and weight restrictions, while also keeping in mind the compatibility with the building’s design. While both options can be tailored to match the building’s aesthetics, fire curtains are more seamless and have a smaller overhead box.

A clear grasp of these installation considerations is key to optimal performance and safety.

Space and Weight Restrictions

Fire curtains are significantly lighter than fire shutters, making them easier to install in spaces with weight restrictions. On the other hand, fire shutters require more space and may have a weight ranging from 800kg to 2000kg, depending on the size of the opening. It’s imperative to ensure that any opening can bear the shutter’s weight and fulfills the requisite fire resistance standards.

Building Design Compatibility

Both fire shutters and fire curtains can be designed to match the building’s aesthetics, but fire curtains offer a more seamless integration with a smaller overhead box. Ensuring compatibility with the building’s design involves confirming that the fire shutter or fire curtain is installed in accordance with applicable fire safety regulations and is suitable for the type of building.

A well-coordinated fire protection system does more than just enhance the premises’ appearance - it also guarantees adherence to fire safety standards.

Operation and Integration

Fire shutters and fire curtains can be integrated into active fire protection systems. This integration allows them to respond to fire by opening or closing when connected to a central fire alarm system.

Such integration is vital for a quick response and optimal fire protection, with both options capable of granting emergency services access when required.

Alarm System Integration

Fire shutters and curtains can be activated by fire alarm systems or heat/smoke detectors to prevent fire spread and protect escape routes. They are typically wired into their own independent, programmable interface panels, also known as head box, activating automatically when the mains alarm/alarm device is triggered.

Fire curtains are equipped with a pre-programmed closing protocol, which may include delayed drop, split drop, or immediate full closure. Effective integration is the cornerstone of rapid response and optimal fire protection.

Emergency Services Access

Guaranteeing access for emergency services during a fire event is vital, as prompt intervention can be life-saving and reduce property damage. Fire shutters can provide access by opening completely, while fire curtains can be easily lifted or removed.

Considerations for emergency services access include:

● Accessibility

● Key access

● Signage

● Communication

  • Training

Maintenance and Compliance

Both fire shutters and fire curtains require regular maintenance and adherence to fire safety regulations to guarantee optimal performance and safety. Adhering to BS 8524 standards for fire curtain testing, maintenance, and inspections, as well as ensuring compliance and certification with fire safety regulations, is crucial for both options.

Regular Maintenance

Maintaining optimal performance necessitates adherence to manufacturers’ instructions and BS 8524 standards for fire curtain testing, maintenance, and inspections.

Routine fire shutter inspections involve assessing for any damage, confirming that the shutters are functioning correctly, and verifying that they are securely fastened.

Regular lubrication and clearance of the area around the shutters ensure their proper functioning and unimpeded operation.

Compliance and Certification

Both fire shutters and fire curtains require compliance and certification with fire safety regulations, including:

● IFCC SDP11-02 to BS 8524 Parts 1 & 2

● Compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

● CE marking (which is a legal requirement for fire shutters)

● Testing and certification by a notified body

● Meeting the requirements of fire test standards and local building regulations.

  • Certification by the LPCB (Loss Prevention Certification Board) for high standard specifications should also be considered.

Choosing the Right Option for Your Business

Choosing the right option for your business depends on cost-effectiveness and suitability for different building types. Fire shutters are generally more cost-effective than fire curtains, but fire curtains may be more suitable depending on space and weight restrictions.

Assessing your specific requirements and seeking professional advice will guide you to the option most apt for your business.

Cost-Effectiveness

Fire shutters are generally cheaper than fire curtains, but various factors should be considered when evaluating cost-effectiveness:

● Initial cost

● Long-term savings

● Compliance with regulations

● Versatility

● Maintenance and durability

Suitability for Different Building Types

Fire curtains are ideal for retail buildings and large public premises or open plan buildings, while fire shutters are suitable for kitchens, gas storage facilities, and car garages. When selecting the right option for your business, consider factors like the design and suitability of the system, loads imposed by components, fire compartmentation, and fire separation.

An assessment of these factors, coupled with professional consultation, confirms that your chosen option complies with your business’s specific needs.

Summary

In conclusion, both fire shutters and fire curtains play essential roles in fire protection and safety. Understanding their differences, installation considerations, operation and integration, maintenance and compliance, and suitability for different building types is crucial for making an informed decision on which option is best for your business. By investing in the right fire protection system, you can ensure the safety of your property and, most importantly, the lives of those who occupy it.

Latest News & Events

RS7502 Industrial Shutter Angle

Powerful Protection: Exploring Competitive Roller Shutter Door Prices

Secure your industrial space with our guide exploring roller shutter door prices and custom features...

Xonar Industrial

Secure Your Industrial Doors: Unlocking the Secrets of Roller Shutter Security

Discover roller shutter security secrets for industrial doors and unlock advanced protection for you...

Industrial sectional doors 2

Elevate Your Security Standards: Investing in Roller Shutter Doors

Boost your industrial security with roller shutter doors. Learn customisation, maintenance, and bene...


Need more information?

Speak to one of our specialist advisors for more information about this product.