Active Fire Curtain Systems
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Fire curtain systems and smoke curtains are effective and aesthetic solutions to fire safety.
Installed, they leave only a visible shadow gap, remaining undetectable until deployment.
This allows building designers to remove load-bearing plasterboard walls and expensive fire-resistant glazing and doors and still:
- Maintain compartmentation
- Ensure the space is fully protected from fire and smoke spread
- Retain the design and open plan feel of the space
Active fire curtain systems are a discreet and effective choice for exceeding fire safety requirements in open-plan buildings. Allowing you to meet environmental targets, while also providing the highest degree of fire safety.
Capabilities, characteristics and applications of fire curtains
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Raising awareness, standards and fire safety
Keeping people safe
Active fire protection gives building users ample escape time if a fire occurs.
Be safe in the knowledge active fire curtains stop the spread of smoke and fire throughout your building.
Enabling you to retrofit to extend the life of building stock and hit tomorrow’s standards.
Reducing carbon footprint for a better tomorrow.
The Adexon charter
Fire Curtain System Regulations
UK Fire regulations now state that all vertical fire curtains supplied since 1st November 2019 must legally be CE marked to harmonised standard BS EN 16034.
The Group of Notified Bodies for the Construction Products Regulations, Steering Group 06 (GNB-CPR-SG06), determined in November 2018 that BS EN 16034 covers fire curtains.
This was after attempts by some in the UK to rebut the application of BS EN 16034 to fire curtains.
Earlier, in October 2016, EN 16034:2014 was recited in the Official Journal of the European Union.
This meant CE marking of operable fabric curtains would be legally mandatory under the CPR from 1st November ’19 (after the 3-year coexistence period) – read more >
Our Fire Curtain Systems are trusted by household names
Protecting prestigious buildings
St James's Market
Offices – we installed over a hundred FCe30 flame resisting fire curtain systems, with custom satin finish on stainless steel fixtures – case study >
Residential – we installed four FCe60 integrity ‘e’ rated fire curtains alongside an FRS60 fire shutter to ensure the safety and security of residents – case study >
Offices – we supplied and fitted a selection of 18 FCe30 and FCe60 fire curtain systems – case study >
The Adexon difference
In an emergency the difference between ‘industry standard’ and ‘highest standards’ can make the difference between life and death.
We engineer our anti-tear fire curtain systems we make to the highest, best standards.
Fig 1 · Typical fire curtain sold in the UK.
Fig 2 · Adexon engineered – using only fire resistant components.
Every curtain we manufacture is engineered this way – see for yourself on the products page >
Fire Curtain FAQs
Yes! We realise it sounds odd, but active fire curtains are a form of passive fire protection – they don’t suppress the fire, they merely compartment and stop spread like walls, fire rated glazing, fire doors etc.
The word ‘active’ describes them in contrast to static fire curtains. Active fire curtains are ‘invisible’ (out of sight) until needed and then deploy on fire alarm, to provide the passive fire barrier required. Static fire curtains are permanently in place e.g. in loft spaces where no access is required.
Our fire curtains are powered by an electric tubular motor, connected to a control panel. The motor unrolls the fabric of the fire curtain, allowing it to deploy.
The fabric unrolls, either horizontally or vertically, until the opening being protected is sealed courtesy of the bottom bar of the glass fibre fabric reaching and creating a seal with the floor. For a horizontal curtain, instead of a ‘bottom bar’, the curtain has a ‘leading-edge bar’ that travels to the other end of the opening, creating a seal, or it meets the leading-edge bar of the curtain that is travelling from the other side, if it is a bi-parting fire curtain.
This deployment is crucial for the prevention of flame and/or smoke spread, as it separates and compartmentalises the space. This allows the creation of a protected escape route and keeps the fire from the next space.
They’re connected to the alarm system, which when sounded, triggers the deployment.
This deployment speed is carefully calibrated so as not to be too fast and cause injury for people passing underneath it, or too slow and become ineffective, with a descent speed of between 0.03 – 0.3 mps (metres per second).
If the curtain is in the Vertical or Concertina orientation, then it will have a gravity fail-safe to ensure deployment in the event of power failure.
Horizontal curtains have a secondary power source, such as rechargeable batteries to ensure that the curtain can still move across the space if the primary power source fails.
We recommend that all fire curtains have smoke control as standard. It is not always requested by the fire strategy but we all know ‘there is no smoke without a fire’.
We can help design the installation so as little of the curtain as possible is visible once installed in the space.
Fire curtains can be installed so they sit flush with ceilings and edges, so it is visible only once deployed.
Yes, it is essential that all fire curtain systems have battery-back up to ensure they continue to function if they lose mains power.
Horizontal fire curtains, due to the direction of closure, require a secondary power source to ensure deployment. This secondary power source is a rechargeable, 30-minute, battery backup, so you have peace of mind that no matter what the situation, your space will be protected. This curtain cannot utilise a gravitational fail-safe due to the direction of closure.
Vertical and concertina fire curtains also have a battery back-up which means they will stay in their ‘open’ position for 30 minutes after loss of mains power e.g. in a fire situation. This is to allow safe evacuation prior to the fire alarm signalling them to close (deploy). They also have gravitational fail-safe to ensure deployment after the 30-minute battery back-up is depleted.
A smoke curtain is tested and certified to EN 12101-1:2005. The test is a fabric permeability test i.e. how much smoke will leak through the fabric per hour under set pressure conditions that seek to replicate a fire. The maximum smoke allowed through the curtain is a rate of leakage of 2.17m3/m²/h. There is no test for leakage around the sides hence a smoke curtain can be tested and fitted without guides. These types of smoke curtains are usually used to channel smoke. A smoke curtain is then subjected to a fire test and will receive either a DH (1000°C) or DA (600°C) rating e.g., a DH60 smoke curtain has passed the hot fire test temperature and has passed the smoke leakage rate for 60 minutes.
A fire curtain is tested and certified to BS EN 16034:2014. The smoke test includes permeability through the fabric, and leakage around the perimeter. The amount of smoke leakage allowed is 3m3/lm/h, where ‘lm’ is the linear meters of perimeter of the fire curtain, excluding the threshold. For example, a fire curtain that was 3m wide x 2.5m high would have an ‘lm’ value of 3 + (2 x 2.5) = 8. The fire curtain is then subject to the fire test and is given a Classification such as E60, or EW120 etc., and the third party certificate will state it has passed the smoke test also. For more information on Classifications please see the article on the Resources page. This smoke test is a more reliable indicator than the one on the smoke curtain as it includes permeability and perimeter leakage, with the latter being the bigger factor often.
They require scheduled maintenance and servicing, every 6 months as a minimum. They should be tested weekly by site facility management. We recommend servicing and maintaining more often than the minimum due to their critical role in fire-safety.
This is highly unlikely as they’re not often used in situations separating people from escape routes. However, if there were a situation, when there is a power failure, each fire system will stay open for 30-minutes courtesy of the battery backup – unless the fire alarm signals it to close sooner – allowing plenty of time for safe evacuation to avoid being trapped. The standard evacuation time in an emergency is 2½ minutes. This also allows time to get the power back on if required and possible (through the mains or with backup power).
If you are still in the building more than 30-minutes after the power has failed, the curtains will deploy meaning you could be trapped in the rare circumstance you are on the wrong side of a fire curtain after deployment. In this situation you would likely be able to lift the curtain up and escape, due to their lightweight design. This does depend on the overall width of the curtain (wider is heavier). There is an optional extra called an emergency retract button that retracts the curtain (opens it) before closing it again after 30 seconds. However, after the batteries have depleted (30-minutes after power failure) these would not work. If you are concerned these unlikely events could combine in your building, please speak to us about setting the curtains to deploy earlier than the 30-minutes after a power failure so as to conserve some of the batteries for emergency retract button use.
Yes, they can be used in a home setting, or anywhere that people reside overnight, for example, in residential schools, residential homes for the elderly, camp houses etc.
Due to their design, they can be used in spaces where a fire door could not be fitted e.g. due to size.
They can also separate areas designed to be open, for example, between floors, or to cover features such as stairs or lifts, which also applies to the open-plan homes.
Despite having names that are remarkably similar, fire retardant curtains and fire curtains have very different applications, safety benefits, and costs, and therefore should not be confused.
Fire retardant curtains are window dressings used to keep out the light, that have a coating applied to the fabric which allows them to withstand ignition for a period of time.
Automatic fire curtains are specialist active fire protection measures that, once deployed, provide compartmentation for the building and help to limit and stop the spread of fire.
The simple answer is, “Yes”.
For a Certification Body to offer certification that is UKAS accredited they have to submit it to UKAS for auditing and checking e.g. to ensure there are no conflicts of interest. This ultimately protects the consumer. For example, Adexon’s product certifications are from Applus+, who in turn are accredited by an accreditation body called ENAC, a European equivalent to UKAS.