How are Fire Curtains Installed?

Updated: Apr 13

Once your Fire Curtain arrives on site, it has already been through a very lengthy process, from tender, quotation, survey, and design, to manufacture and delivery. Many new customers will be unsure of exactly what installation entails, the impact that can be expected from installation, particularly in terms of noise pollution, mess, or access disruption, and how long installation will take from start to signing off.


Of course, these things differ vastly from project to project, however, our rough guide can answer your most pressing questions!


How is a Fire Curtain Installed?

After delivery to site, your specialist Adexon engineers will install the product, alongside the use of ladders, or specialist lifting equipment such as Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) when using a ladder becomes unsafe.


The process of installation for Fire Curtains can be briefly described below.


Induction and Sign- In

When your engineers arrive on-site, they will need to be introduced to the individual responsible for overseeing the installation of the Fire Curtain/s. They will also be given the necessary safety inductions at this time and will be officially signed into the site, which can be via a fingerprint scanner, or with a tradespersons book.


This stage must be completed at the start of every project, as a legal obligation. Once the induction and responsible person introductions are complete, this stage is complete and does not need repeating, unlike the act of signing in and out of site, which must continue for the duration of engineers visits to site.[1]

A long, red ladder leans against a wall with electronics.

Offload Products and Equipment

Your engineers will then offload all relevant products and equipment and may store extra goods in designated storage areas if, for example, they will be needed for the following day. This will ensure that engineers get to site much quicker on subsequent days.

Completing this step ensures that the engineers have everything they need on site, which removes further delays.


Move Products

Engineers will then take each Fire Curtain to the install location when they are ready to install it in that location. This is generally confirmed by a label on the packaging to ensure it goes to the correct place.

Subsequent Fire Curtains will remain in the storage area so as to remove slip and trip hazards and remove potential blockages to areas etc.[2]

An arm in a blue top measures a wall

Re-measure Areas of Installation

Engineers must then remeasure the specific areas for installation, as specified in the drawings. If measurements are plum, level, and true then the Fire Curtain can be installed where specified, and there are no issues.


Delays may occur here if the area is not sized as described, or if the measurements are out by a cm.


Unpack

The Fire Curtain is then carefully unpacked. As it is made of fabric, care must be taken to ensure that the fabric is not cut during the opening process, or that it is kept away from sharp implements, such as screws, nails, tools etc.

The engineers would also then check that all smaller parts, for example, screws, are present.


Install Fire Curtain

The Fire Curtain will then be installed, in the following order.

1. Headbox

2. Side guides

3. Barrel assembly, which includes the fabric and attached bottom bar.

4. Wire in the control panel and the rest of the electronics, including buttons and switches.


Test and Commission

Your engineers will then start testing and commissioning to ensure that each Fire Curtain is operating to the required limits and will deploy under receipt of an alarm signal. They will also check the gravitational failsafe is fully operational.


There is then a final handover to the site manager or responsible person who is responsible for the sign off on the Fire Curtain being operational. Any necessary training on the operation of an Active Fire Curtain is carried out now.


Clean Up

Engineers will then clean and tidy the area they have been working in. This includes removing any waste products, which will be disposed of into recycling facilities on-site if it can be. If it cannot be disposed of on-site, then the engineer will take it to a separate recycling and waste facility.


If the engineers have further Fire Curtains to install, they will then move on to the next curtain, or would sign out of site, and leave.


How impactful is Fire Curtain Installation?


Many customers are worried about the potential impact of the installation process.

Around 99% of our projects involve installing the Fire Curtain while the building is still in the build stage, that is before it is signed off, handed over to building management teams, and goes into active use. For these projects, installation impact is minimal, as there are no constraints on occupiers needs.


But Fire Curtains hold great potential for retrofitting, and adapting pre-existing spaces, as they can be fitted discreetly into a false ceiling and can be designed around existing structures. This means they can be installed into occupied buildings with a minimum of fuss.


The most mentioned impact factors relate to noise pollution, mess, and access disruption.[3]

A building site is cluttered with ladders, buckets, and stacked materials.

Noise Pollution

As with all structural work, there will be associated noise.


Most of the construction noise however will be minimal, and clients find that they are still able to carry out their day-to-day activities around the noise.


The noise that is likely to be the loudest is when engineers are drilling the pilot holes, which can be louder if drilling into masonry. This noise, as you expect, will be on-and-off rather than consistent.

Other noise sources will be associated with moving large metal parts, such as the side guides and headbox of the Fire Curtain, and items such as ladders.


If Mobile Elevating Work Platforms or MEWPS are required, they would be powered by electricity as they would be used indoors, and sound similar to an electric wheelchair.


Alarm beeps from the panel would also add to some of the noise, as the engineers set up and test the Fire Curtain system ready for commissioning.


The associated noise with retrofitting and installing a Fire Curtain is, generally speaking, will not be too disruptive to your daily activities, especially if the Fire Curtain is in a different section of the building.


Mess

Creating, and cleaning up mess associated with installing a Fire Curtain is part and parcel of the specialist engineer's daily activities.


The first kind of mess would relate to Packaging. Fire Curtain systems are wrapped in cardboard and plastic wrap to ensure that the product reaches site from the manufacturing facility in the correct condition. It is best practice for engineers to keep on top of generated mess, as it can provide dangerous slip and trip hazards, which can lead to accidents for them, their co-workers or building users. Any rubbish waste generated from wrapping, wire covers, etc will be removed by the engineer at the close of the job, and either disposed of on-site if the building user gives permission, or at specific waste disposal facilities, whereas much will be recycled as possible.


The last kind of mess associated with Fire Curtain installation comes from drilling mess when the engineer drills the holes to attach the structure of the Fire Curtain. Engineers generally use drill cups to catch masonry and wall dust while drilling the pilot holes.


After fitting the Fire Curtain, engineers will also fully clean the installation area, which will remove any dust residue from the site.[4]

A closed sign hangs on a window

Access disruption.

Many building users are also concerned that engineers will need separate access throughout the day, which could be detrimental to how they use their building, and this is not necessarily -the case.


Depending on the area in which the Fire Curtain is to be installed, the area may need to be closed off for general access while engineers are working. People cannot access sites without specific training and certification, appropriate PPE, and a safety induction, to adhere to legally binding Health and Safety.


If this applied to your building, specific access plans will be worked out for engineers and general building users to ensure nobody is at risk and all can work safely.


How long will Installation take?


As with retrofitting, we would all prefer it to be completed in the shortest timeframe possible. But how long is it likely to take in actuality?


The general rule of thumb allows that a Fire Curtain can be installed in, on average, ½ a day, from arrival on site, induction, all the way through to commissioning.


This can be affected by many factors, however, including,

  • difficulty offloading equipment,

  • poor site access, and

  • a lengthy induction process.

  • If permits not being in place before engineers arrive,

  • If a very large Fire Curtain is to be installed, or

  • previous electrical installation works have not been completed, for example if fire alarms are not already installed.

  • If the installation location is awkward to work in due to physical barriers, or if the control panel needs to be installed a distance from the Fire Curtain itself, for example, in a main office, and finally,

  • if site preparation is poor, for example, on-site staff are not ready to receive engineers, they are not adequately aware of the scope or location of the job or have not closed off locations ahead of time, etc.[5]


But my site cannot close during the day!

Due to the requirement for certain sites to remain open during the day, Adexon can install Active Fire and Smoke Curtain both during business hours, and outside of business hours, including at night.


During Business Hours

Most locations prefer servicing, maintenance, or installation to take place within business hours due to the impact that noise pollution may have on building users who sleep on the premises, for example, in a care home. As residents will be sleeping, any construction works will potentially impact sleeping patterns or schedules and may also require extra staff who are not normally on shift to maintain security or escort engineers, if applicable.


Outside of Business Hours

Some locations require servicing, maintenance, or installation to take place outside of business hours, as the disruption to site would have too vast an impact on the day-to-day use of the space, for example, a GP surgery.


These premises can find that it is occasionally quicker to have their Fire Curtain system installed as the building is more likely to be free from users, and engineers are not limited to only working in certain areas, so as not to impact on the building’s operation. However, it can be a negative, as sites can have key personnel that only work during the day, which can impact on sign in, site inductions, permit collection, etc.



However unique your site is, no matter the installation time needed, Adexon engineers will ensure that your Active Fire Curtain system is installed seamlessly, in line with all appropriate safety standards. This means you can be sure that your building users are kept safe, and the installation will be a pain-free process.


Leaving you free to think about everything else you need to do that day!


Check out our LDP case study for an example of when we have aced a complex installation!


__________________________________________________________________________ [1] Image from Rawpixel.com, courtesy of Raw Pixel [2]Image from Pexels.com, courtesy of Ksenia Chernaya [3]Image from Pexels.com, courtesy of Rene Asmussen [4] Image from Rawpixel.com, courtesy of Raw Pixel [5] Image from Rawpixel.com, courtesy of Raw Pixel

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