Fire and Smoke Curtain FAQs

Fire and smoke curtains are the relative newcomers on the block to traditional fire protection measures. They can fit in the criteria of active, if deployed from a fire or smoke alarm signal, or passive when providing boundary protection in a shared loft space. They are incredibly robust, flexible, and reliable, and can allow tier one and two contractors, and now homeowners, the flexibility to utilise large, open-plan, multi-use spaces flooded with natural light: while stopping the growth and development of fire and smoke within the structure and adhering to fire regulations.

So, what are the most common questions about fire and smoke curtains, and are they right for you and your space?

How does the Fire curtain activate?

The Fire Curtain system can be activated by a fire alarm contact, internal fire and smoke detection devices, SHEV (smoke and heat exhaust ventilation), or manual emergency buttons.

In the event of a fire, the ADEXON® Control Panel (CBM), receives the signal alarm, and deploys the curtain automatically, with a controlled constant speed of descent, to remove the possibility of injury or entrapment. If there is an episode of total power loss, the gravity fail-safe will ensure controlled, and appropriately timed deployment.

If there is a false alarm, the fire curtains will automatically return to their fire ready positions after resetting the alarm at the main fire management system/ building management system. In the case of complete power loss, the fire curtain has 6 hours of battery back-up to ensure it stays in the fire ready position long enough to restore the mains power, and still provide effective compartmentation, or protected escape routes.

Do the curtains have smoke control?

Some dual-function barriers offer features such as smoke seals to allow the barrier to offer an active smoke containment system.

Smoke seals consist of intumescent brushes that encircle the perimeter of the smoke curtain, which halt the spread of smoke and fire. These strips are akin to the seals that can be found on domestic doors and are straight brush piles that come in a variety of lengths.

All as-standard, single-roller curtains, have smoke seals provided Adexon® actively recommends that you utilise them.

How is the headbox installed?

Headbox installation very much depends on the installation scenario but will fit into one of the following categories.

Face or reveal fixed- fixing straight back through the headbox into the structure.

  • Option one will involve fixing through the top of the headbox into the structure, creating a reveal fixed curtain.

  • Option two involves fixing through the back of the headbox into the structure, creating a faced fixed fire curtain.

Using drop rods and unistruts.

  • Unistruts can be used in situations where the fixing points for the curtain are above where the finished ceiling will be. You can Unistrut the headbox down (Max. 1500mm) to the finished ceiling level. (Please note the gap between the fixing point and headbox need to have a fire-rated infill.)

I beam fixing-

  • Sometimes where the fire curtain will be needed, additional support may be necessary, such as a steel beam, or the correct level of support would be in place already. The fire curtain headbox can be installed on the beam if required and this would be fixed to the toe of the steel using a beam clamp.

Glass and metal fire exit doors with a discreet fire curtain installed above.

A vertical active fire curtain Adexon® installed in St James' Market, London.

What finishes are available?

The headbox, side guides, and bottom bar for the curtains can be customised to a wide variety of standard, and non-standard finishes and colours to ensure it elevates the design of the room. They can be galvanised and powder coated in a large variety of RAL colours as standard.

Adexon® can also offer a range of C1-5 rust-proof powder coatings, in a range of colours, for products that are to be installed on or near water, at an extra charge.

How does the curtain drop in the event of a fire?

The fire curtain is connected to your alarm system, which when sounded, will trigger the deployment of the fire curtain. 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 0.06 metres per second (m/s) and 0.15m/s.

If the curtain is vertical or pleated, then it will have a gravity fail-safe to ensure deployment in a situation of power failure. Horizontal curtains will 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.

Does the Fire Curtain have battery backup?

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 pleated fire curtains also have a battery back-up, which allows users 30-minutes of guaranteed evacuation time. These types of fire curtains also have a gravitational fail-safe to ensure deployment after the 30-minute battery back-up is depleted.

How much of the product will be visible?

In the design process, we can ensure as much, or as little of the curtain will be visible once installed in the space. The curtains can be installed so they sit flush with ceilings and edges, so are visible only once deployed.

Fire Curtain from Bishopsgate, London. Has a black box at the top middle to highlight the partially deployed bottom bar and side guides.

Image of installed Fire Curtain at 100 Bishopsgate, London. Inside the square, you can see the partially deployed RAL powder coated bottom bar and the stainless steel side rails. The white button underneath is the Escape button.

What optional extras are available for the Fire Curtain?

Non-standard optional extras with Adexon® fire curtains of any variety include:

  • emergency retract buttons, or key switch emergency overrides,

  • obstruction warning,

  • light and sound warning,

  • test reset switch,

  • heat detectors, and

  • smoke detectors.

How often do I need to have the Fire Curtain serviced?

Fire curtains require regular maintenance and servicing, every six months.

Adexon® offer Scheduled Maintenance Service (SMS) as an optional extra for every curtain purchased.

Can these be used in a domestic setting?

Fire Curtains certainly can be utilised for a home setting, or anywhere that people reside overnight, for example in residential schools, residential homes for the elderly, camp houses etc. Fire curtains, due to their design, can be used in spaces where a fire door could not be fitted due to a lack of structural supports. They can also separate areas that are designed to be open, for example between floors, or to cover features such as stairs or lifts, which applies to some domestic homes also. The possibilities for the application of fire curtains are limitless and a wide variety of widths and heights can be utilised.

What if there is a power failure and I get caught behind the curtain?

If there is a total power failure, every fire curtain system will have a 30-minute battery backup. This allows for the user to have time to get the power back on, either through the mains or with backup generators.

This also means that the fire curtain will be held in the air for 30 minutes to allow for safe egress out of the building, until the backup batteries are out of power, after which they will lower the curtain safely. This gives users plenty of time, as the standard evacuation time in an emergency is around 2.5 minutes.

There is also an escape button that retracts the curtain allowing persons to escape through the opening and redeploys after 30 seconds.

Why are these curtains so sustainable?

Due to testing constraints, no fire curtain of the market can be described as truly sustainable- yet!

However, sustainability can be reached via controlling business operations, for example in the use of renewable energy sources in the office, employees of Adexon® travelling to work in fully electric cars, or using public transport, recyclable, recycled packaging, and using green vehicles for delivery of the product.

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