What to Look for in a Fire and Smoke Curtain

What to Look for in a Fire and Smoke Curtain

Many people are not familiar with what fire and smoke curtains are or how and why they are used. In this article, you will receive an explanation of what they are and why you need to carefully plan their use. We will also explain how to pick the ideal set-up for your building and how to decide the style and design that will work best for you.

What is the difference between a fire curtain and a smoke curtain?

While both devices may look similar in appearance and how they are operated, there are key differences between the functioning of the two. To separate the two, we provide these definitions.

Smoke Curtains are used as a functioning part of a smoke control system. Their purpose is to do one of two things. Smoke curtains are used to either route the smoke in a particular path (away from people or susceptible items) or to stop smoke from moving from one area to another. In most cases, these curtains are built over the height of a person so as not to inhibit people from leaving an area.

Fire Curtains are used for compartmentation. Specific examples of the use of fire curtains are to protect open areas or the spread of fire from one floor to another. Additionally, a fire curtain can protect routes of escape for people fleeing a fire in a building. It does this by protecting key areas of escape from the spread of the fire.

After explaining the key differences between a smoke curtain and a fire curtain, there is more you can learn about how to choose the right product for each building project.

Smoke and fire curtains are both parts of an industrial curtain track and its accompanying parts for all types of necessary partitions that keep key areas or rooms separated from others. This is done for many reasons, fire and smoke protection, privacy or space management. Areas to protect might be paint rooms, loading docks and clean rooms.

Understanding Fire and Smoke Curtains

You may wonder how you can decide which is which and what type of each you might need for the building you are creating or the renovation of an existing building. You are sincerely concerned about the safety of the people working or visiting the building and you want to choose the best design of smoke and fire curtains for your particular need and how you can do that successfully.

Here are some more tips to help you make the correct decisions. Knowing the types of smoke curtains available will help narrow down your choices depending on what you need.

Types of smoke curtains

  1. Draft curtains are static curtains used mostly in warehouses or manufacturing plants. These curtains do not go all the way to the ceiling but break up the rise of smoke so that it can’t flow up as it wants.
  2. Vertical smoke curtains close off atrium areas from reaching the staircases. They prevent smoke from moving downward and allow for easier escape.
  3. Perimeter curtains help buildings with large stairs or escalators to contain smoke. They form a separate wall prohibiting smoke’s travel.
  4. Elevator curtains block smoke from going in or out of an elevator. Most fire codes in cities, localities or states require some form of elevator smoke curtains.

Purposes of Fire Curtains

Fire curtains differ from smoke curtains even though some of the protections might overlap. Fire curtains have a very specific job. They are used to compartmentalize areas within a building so as to inhibit the movement of fire and better allow for the escape of building occupants. They also allow firefighters to get better access to the building in their efforts to extinguish the fire. Curtains prove easier to install than fire doors and make it easier to gain access to escape routes.

Fire curtains are activated when temperatures in the area reach beyond a certain level. They serve three essential purposes. They include:

  1. Limit the fire as it begins to burn
  2. Prevent the spread of the fire
  3. Protect fire escape routes

Whether or not your architect says you need one or both, fire and smoke curtains can limit damage to your property and, most importantly, save lives.


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