It’s a sign of the evolving nature of commercial buildings that fire safety is now a primary element in building design. But it’s no longer enough to include bolt-on safety measures. Today’s architects, construction companies and their clients are looking for fire protection that can be seamlessly integrated in building design – ready to be deployed at any moment, but without encroaching on space or visual harmony.
Where fire protection is needed inside a building but security is not, this role can be played by fire curtains. Made from a Steel-wire-reinforced fabric, the latest fire curtains can provide significant benefits over steel roller-type fire shutters.
Fire curtains provide functional fire protection in a far less obtrusive form than steel roller shutters. They take up less space. They deploy quickly. They can also be installed almost invisibly, in areas where space is an issue but fire protection is a must.
Technology has allowed a fire curtain fabric to be developed to the point where it can offer up to two hours’ fire protection in the right type of installation. The material is a hybrid of stainless steel wire and reinforced glass. It is a flexible, low profile material that forms a space-efficient barrier.
Fire roller shutters can offer up to four hours protection, but whether you need longer than a 2-hour rating depends on factors unique to your building: its location, proximity to fire services, fire risk and safety concerns. In most situations the fire curtain will be linked with the building’s integrated fire and alarm system. Because of the critical nature of the personnel and property protection that any fire protection system is required to provide, regular periodic maintenance should be carried to ensure that it continues to perform as it was specified to.
In reality, it’s not a direct choice between the two. Many buildings will use both: fire shutters on the building’s perimeter, or where a security element is required, and fire curtains on the interior, where that element of concealment is all-important.
For a case in point, consider the typical multi-storey office building with a lift shaft and a lobby on each floor. A lift shaft is a traditional weak point when it comes to fire protection. Without additional measures, fire and smoke can too easily spread from floor to floor. The lobby itself is usually subject to space restrictions and it is a key transit point for visitors to the building, so its appearance is important.
The solution to this dilemma is illustrated well by a recent project completed for Cowlin Construction, working on new four-storey offices at Harbourside, Bristol with a total of eight lift shafts.
In this case, fire curtains were fitted on outside of lift doors to prevent fire from spreading. In case of a fire alarm trigger, the curtains come down independently – they are linked to the alarm system and control panels. How exactly to deploy them will be decided by the fire safety officer, who will set a procedure for the curtains to activate, with or without a time delay or manual override.
Cowlin brought in HAG specifically to work on these fire curtains, in order to provide their client with concealed fire protection expertly engineered into the building. HAG offers engineering expertise to ensure that all work is carried out to the right level. Our installation experience complements the importance of product, which is ultimately there to protect lives and property – making fire curtains some of the most valuable protection you’ll (hopefully) never see.
For any enquiries regarding fire curtains, don’t hesitate to contact our team on 0800 072 3444.
HAG offers a wide range of products and services, if you would like further information call 0800 072 3444 now to speak to a member of our team.