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Fire and smoke curtain requirements

POSTED BY 23.03.2015,

There are a whole range of different products available that are suited to a manufacturing environment. It is likely there will be large, expansive areas to be protected, so it is essential to specify a product that can allow a continuous run of fire or smoke curtains with minimal amounts of steel work or side guides. Most of the fire and smoke products on the market can offer unlimited widths, but standard products may be limited to drops of up to 8 metres.


When specifying fire curtains there are a number of factors that need to be considered which will normally be affected by the application. If the curtain is for compartmentation, then the integrity of the fire curtain needs to be taken into account. The integrity is determined by the letter ‘E’ and is rated in terms of minutes. Clearly, the higher the E classification, the longer the compartmentation barrier will remain.


If the fire curtain is required to protect a means of escape, then an insulating or tenable zone may be necessary. Traditional fire doors can be removed to make free flowing corridors, but in the event of a fire, an insulating or tenable zone may be required as part of the escape route. An insulating or tenable zone is an area that allows occupants to pass by a fire curtain without the radiant heat temperature being too high. The radiation of a fabric is noted by the letters ‘EW’.


Fire curtains should always come with a classification that can give a rating for integrity, radiation and insulation. A classification of E120 EW60 would mean the curtain has been tested and offers integrity (E) for 120 minutes and radiation (EW) for 60 minutes.


To comply with fire safety legislation, fire and smoke curtain barriers must be protected from a short circuit and or total power failure. In most systems this takes the form of an electromechanical fail safe system, such as Coopers Fire’s Total Gravity Fail-Safe system. Coopers Fire was the original patentee for this type of mechanism, which set the benchmark for active smoke and fire barriers worldwide.


Once fire and smoke curtains have been installed it is essential that they are regularly serviced and maintained. It is recommended fire and smoke curtains are serviced annually and tested with the fire alarm system once a week. Most of manufacturers and installers of fire and smoke curtains offer service and maintenance packages and help ensure that the occupants of the manufacturing facility are protected from the effects of fire and smoke.


Fire Curtains Case Study


In a recent application for the German SCHÜTZ Group, Coopers Fire were commissioned to manufacture and install fire curtains that, in the event of fire, would deploy and prevent the spread of fire from one factory building to another along a conveyor belt tunnel linking the multiple buildings together.


The UK factory based in Worksop, Nottinghamshire has more than 120 employees and is active in the fields of production and reconditioning of SCHÜTZ containers. The workshop manufacturing factory comprises of three main units that are interlinked by conveyor belt tunnels that assist in moving products from one building to another.


To ensure employees safety and to protect the storage of the products within each building it was essential that each unit was kept separate from each other by way of fire curtains in the conveyor belt tunnels to prevent the spread of fire and smoke should a fire break out in any of the units.


Coopers Fire installed a series of FireMaster vertical fire curtains along the conveyor belt tunnels specifically designed to compartmentalise the spread of fire from one building to the next. The fire curtains installed also offer boundary protection by creating a separating element within the interlinking conveyor belt tunnels.


As Coopers Fire is able to design and build a bespoke product to suit every application, the FireMaster fire curtains were designed to deploy onto the conveyor belts when activated.


As regulations covering fire and smoke containment systems in manufacturing buildings are becoming infinitely more stringent, fire and smoke curtains from Coopers Fire offer a flexible solution without compromising safety. Visit our case studies section to learn more.