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Why Choose a Fire Curtain over a Fire Shutter?

Created on Monday, August 21, 2017 and posted in Fire Protection Articles
Why Choose a Fire Curtain over a Fire Shutter?

Manufactured using flame retardant stainless steel wire reinforced glass fabric, fire curtains are fast becoming the most popular modern fire safety solution worldwide. But why Choose a Fire Curtain over a Fire Shutter?  Why are they preferred over the traditional fire rated shutter?

Steel Fire Shutters provide security and fire protection. A shutter is useful for protecting any kind of premises which requires safeguarding, where fire protection is also of paramount importance. However fire safety is just as important in areas like shopping centres, airports and even domestic premises. For example, a kitchen will have openings where flames can move through and spread. Through sealing off these openings the fire is contained, leaving an ample and safe evacuation route, whilst providing escapees with more valuable time.

Different kinds of industrial doors can deal with both fire and safety concerns, however parallel requirements and purposes can lead to a great deal of confusion. A fire curtain will not offer you protection against physical intrusion but you will receive the highest level of protection against fire and smoke.  A fire curtain combines such safety sufficiency with an unobtrusive and aesthetically neutral appearance, invisibly retracted and housed in a slim box casing above a hatch or door. A bulky steel fire shutter headbox is harder to integrate with existing walls and décor. Ease-of-installation is another attraction of fire curtain systems. It is not a lengthy process and they are relatively low-maintenance.

Fire curtains are typically manufactured with either a 60, 120 or 240 minute fire rating, meaning they can match the protective qualities of a fire rated shutter. It also means that fire curtain systems can be developed around the needs of a specific building. There are many differing factors such as location, proximity to fire services, risk of fire and evacuation safety which all contribute towards the safety needs of a specific building.

Most modern fire curtains systems feature gravity fail-safe technology. This means that if there is a failure in the main functions of the system, the power supply and the battery back-up fails then the fire curtain will still descend under gravity at a steady rate.

One of the key selling points for fire curtains is their flexibility of use in an emergency. For example, if a fire shutter was trapping someone from escaping in an emergency, the shutter is a big obstruction. A steel shutter is almost impossible to break through when trying to escape and the metal shutter retains heat from the fire, endangering those trying to escape. The lightweight fire curtain fabric will not retain heat and can be lifted or cut by any individual that is trapped. Larger fire curtains have sections of cloth that overlap meaning that trapped people can pull the fabric apart.

Although it does not have the same effect in terms of security, the fire curtain is a simplified, compact, discreet and more flexible imitation of the fire shutter whilst also being more cost effective and environmentally friendly.

This article was contributed by NECO Fire Gard who added “Fire curtain technology is being developed further.  At NECO Fire Gard we had many enquiries into the safety of fire curtains. In order to provide peace of mind we developed our own systems using battery back-ups to overcome potential power failures. We also are able to fit photocell sensors into our fire curtain systems, meaning that an alarm will sound as the curtain descends if there are any obstructions. The alarm will only stop sounding once the obstruction is removed”.

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