Coopers Fire explains how fire curtain barrier systems may be used to provide boundary protection to both new and existing buildings
Fires in Dubai, UAE at The Address Downtown at New Year, the Torch in February 2015 and the Tamweel tower in 2012 have highlighted the potential for external fire spread in tall buildings via non-fire-rated building facades.
Although a new Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice, due to be introduced in the UAE in April 2016, is expected to address many of the issues relating to new buildings, there still remain concerns about existing buildings.
The Code is expected to place greater requirements on curtain walling and cladding products and introduce a comprehensive list of tests that must be conducted, as well as a general requirement for all building products and systems to be independently tested, audited and certified by approved third-party bodies. The Code is also expected to place new responsibilities on building owners to maintain the life safety measures within their buildings.
However, with some commentators suggesting that at least 20% of existing UAE building stock may be affected, it is likely that some glazing façade systems, such as curtain walling, may be too expensive to upgrade, or incapable of being upgraded to meet the environmental requirements.
Improving tall building safety
Coopers Fire suggests that fire barrier curtains have an important role to play both in upgrading existing buildings retrospectively to improve life safety and in protecting new projects at the point of design or construction. The company has developed a range of fire barrier curtains to meet the specific needs of boundary protection.
Fire curtains offer a practical solution where notional boundaries are infringed due to new building proximity to existing buildings or sheer building density. They can also assist in preventing vertical fire spread from floor to floor.
Such systems comprise technologically advanced fire and smoke-resistant fabric barriers encased in a compact steel housing. The fire curtain barriers remain invisibly retracted until activated by an alarm or detector signal, at which time they descend safely to their operational position, controlled by a fail-safe gravity system.
All of the vertical Fire Barrier Curtains offered by Coopers Fire can offer boundary protection and are a perfect solution to prevent the spread of fire in tall buildings.
Coopers’ FireMaster Plus fire barrier system can be installed on windows to prevent the fire from entering the building from the outside, spreading from one building to the next or from the inside to the fascia on the outside or to nearby buildings in close proximity. The FireMaster Plus2 offers 180 minutes of integrity (E) and 60 minutes of radiance (EW).
Coopers’ ViiFire fire curtain offers a compact head box in sizes up to 3m wide with a 3m drop. It provides protection for openings, boundary protection and cross corridor separation.
Coopers’ Vertical FireMaster offers integrity (E) for up to 120 minutes and 30 minutes of radiance (EW), and is available in unlimited widths and up to 8m drops.
Coopers Fire has installed boundary protection fire curtains in two iconic buildings in London; Dover Street and The Leadenhall Building (“The Cheesegrater”). At Dover Street, fire curtains provide protection to an existing building where non-rated glazing was chosen to protect the notional boundary but there were plans to extend the height of an opposite building.
Coopers Fire Limited has a long and successful history of producing fire and smoke curtain barrier systems for installation worldwide. Every Coopers’ fire curtain is third party accredited to BS, EN and UL standards, including the new British Standard for fire curtains BS 8524 Parts 1 and 2. Coopers Fire also has independent third party accreditation for the installation, commissioning and servicing of fire and smoke curtains.