What is a Fire Curtain?

Fire-resistant walls, ceilings, doors, and glazing are the traditional, first-stop for compartmentalising commercial, industrial, or domestic settings, but this relies on compartmentation elements having a place in the design of the building. Fire Curtains are the solution to fire protection in open-plan layouts and ensure fire safety compliance within buildings that have a floorplan that does not typically allow for compartmentation.

The concept of compartmentation means that building is divided up into manageable areas of risk to prevent the spread of smoke and fire, to allow occupants to escape and to provide access for fire-fighters. [1]

The use of correctly designed, installed and maintained Fire Curtains can ensure the safety of inhabitants, reduce fire and smoke spread, and the potential damage that comes from fire incidents. This protects the longevity of the building itself, the lives of those who use it and therefore should not be overlooked as an Active Fire protection measure in the workplace, or the home.

A Fire Curtain partially deployed. The black box demonstrates the bottom bar and side guides.

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

What is an Active Fire Curtain?

Fire Curtains are a discreet but specific Active solution to many problems within a large-scale, open layout building. The unobtrusive installation process means curtains can be designed around existing features and can be fitted sympathetically, so they do not interrupt the style and flow of the space.

Once deployed in an emergency, the fire curtain can act in several ways to provide protection:

  • Forming protected routes of escape.

  • Replacing the use of traditional construction methods, such as non-loadbearing walls, ceilings, doors, or glazing.

  • Creating flexible compartmentation options.

  • Providing safe access for emergency services.

  • Covering glazing and providing boundary protection to cease fire and smoke spread.

What component parts make up a fire curtain?

A fire curtain is made up of 10 key components, essential to the running of the fire protection measure.

Black and white diagram of an Adexon Active Fire Curtain

These 10 parts are:

  1. Control panel CBM

  2. Adexon tubular motor 24DC

  3. CRM electronic control board

  4. Galvanised steel headbox

  5. Galvanised steel roller/ barrel

  6. Galvanised steel side guides

  7. Galvanised steel bottom bar

  8. Fire-resistant fabric

  9. Escape button

  10. Emergency button

How do the Components ensure Compartmentation?

A fire curtain’s fire-resistant fabric, (which is fire-resistant up to 1000ׄC) is wrapped around a 78mm steel barrel inside a steel headbox. When the control panel (CBM) receives the fire signal, either from fire alarm contact, internal fire and smoke detection devices, smoke, and head exhaust ventilation (SHEV), or manual emergency buttons, it releases the 24DC tubular motor’s brake and the curtain begins to descend, under a constant, consistent speed. As the fire-resistant fabric descends vertically*, it slots in between steel guide rails, if applicable**, and will cease deployment when the steel bottom bar reaches and creates a seal with, the floor.

In situations of complete power failure, the battery back-up will allow for up to 6 hours of emergency power where the curtain will remain in the fire ready position. The fire curtain will continue to be able to be deployed with a constant speed by the gravity fail-safe.

*If the curtain is in the horizontal orientation, it will deploy laterally.

**Concertina fire curtains can be completely enclosed, negating the need for side guides.

Escape buttons are installed alongside the fire curtain to allow for the curtain to be raised if someone should become trapped behind the curtain and redeploys automatically after 30 seconds. Contrastingly, the emergency button allows for the curtain to be deployed immediately, in case of emergency situations.

If there is a false alarm, the curtains will automatically return to their fire ready positions after resetting the alarm at the main fire management/ building management system.

Glass and stainless steel fire door, with a RAL white Active Fire Curtain above.

Varieties of Fire and Smoke Curtains

At Adexon® we offer a variety of Active Fire and Smoke Curtains, ensuring that no matter the project, we have a curtain suitable for the job.

These include the:

− ADEXON- FC120e (Vertical, 120-minutes Integrity-rated)

− ADEXON-FC120ei (Vertical, 120-minute Integrity and Insulation-rated)

− ADEXON-fc120ew (Vertical, 120-minute Integrity and Radiation- rated)

− ADEXON-FC120e Concertina

− ADEXON-FC120e Horizontal

− ADEXON-SC180d (Smoke Curtain)

Some Adexon® products also offer dual-function barriers, with features such as intumescent smoke seals to allow the barrier to offer an active smoke containment system, as well as the fire protection you would expect from an Adexon® Active Fire Curtain.

Fire Classifications

During fire testing, multiple classifications are tested and determined that deem an Active Fire or Smoke Curtain to be safe. The most common ratings and their meanings are as follows.

Infographic to explain the Integrity 'E' and Integrity and Insulation 'E/I' active Fire Curtains

Infographic to explain the Integrity and Radiation 'E/W' active fire curtain

Fire Curtains for your Future Projects

Alongside competent installation, and routine maintenance, Adexon® Active Fire Curtains can give open plan spaces the fire protection they need to increase compartmentation, provide safe, protected escape routes, limit fire and smoke spread, and replace traditional passive fire protection methods.

For more information on the application of Fire and Smoke Curtains, or to see more detailed specifications for each curtain, please see the technical documentation on our website.


[1] ASFP, ‘Black Book: Active Fire Curtains 1st Edition 2020, page 9.

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