This complete guide to fire curtains and smoke curtains has been compiled to help you find the right curtain for your premises.
2. Legal requirements for employers and building owners
You’re responsible for fire safety in business or other non-domestic premises if you’re:
anyone else with control of the premises, for example a facilities manager, building manager, managing agent or risk assessor
You’re known as the ‘responsible person’. As the responsible person you must carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises. This will identify what you need to do to prevent fire and keep people safe. (source: https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities)
All doors must comply with British Standards and CE certified (in future to be replaced by UKCA certifications in England, Scotland and Wales). Failure to do so can result in prosecution or can invalidate your insurance and warranty. You must be able to provide all relevant documents and plans in the event of a Health and Safety inspection.
3. Starting with the building fire strategy
Fire protection is paramount in designing today’s workspaces and industrial premises. It’s one of the few things that takes precedence even over security.
There are many factors to consider when specifying a fire curtain or smoke curtain for property and personnel protection. The building fire strategy report should be the first and most important element to review, as this will detail how the entire emergency procedures and safety devices will work together in the event of fire and evacuation.
Once you have reviewed this document you should consider the following when specifying fire curtains:
compartmental time requirement
main escape route requirement
requirement of fabric including its heat integrity, smoke leakage and irradiance/insulation.
The primary standard for specifiers, architects, fire engineers specifying active fire curtain barrier assemblies include: BS EN 1634 Fire resistance and smoke control tests for door and shutter assemblies, openable windows and elements of building hardware – Fire resistance test for door and shutter assemblies and openable windows BS EN 16034:2104 Pedestrian doorsets, industrial, commercial, garage doors and openable windows. Product standard, performance characteristics. Fire resisting and/or smoke control characteristics BS EN 13501 Fire classification of construction products and building elements – Classification using data from fire resistance tests, excluding ventilation services BSI PAS 121 Specification for active fire curtain barrier assemblies and active fire barrier assemblies with smoke rating BS EN 12101 Smoke and heat control system
5. Fire Curtains and smoke curtains explained
Fire curtains and smoke curtains are designed to be used in doorways, lift doors, in corridors and egress areas where it is important for:
people in the building to be protected from smoke and fire whilst escaping in emergency conditions
limit the spread of smoke and fire throughout the building in advance of the emergency services
They are typically made from a woven fibreglass material that is stored in a headbox at a high level and activated by an emergency alarm device to descend to its ‘safe position’ – normally the floor – thus creating a barrier to smoke and/or fire.
What is the difference between a fire curtain, a smoke curtain and a fire & smoke curtains?
A fire curtain is designed to limit the spread of fire and smoke between different zones in a building to compartmentalise the fire. For this purpose, they deploy from ceiling to floor level. They need to be robust to withstand the heat and impact of the fire.
A smoke curtain is designed to restrict the flow of smoke to allow safe routes of escape, such as corridors and atria. For this reason, they can be deployed from ceiling to above head height in order not to impede the escape routes, or to ground for a complete barrier.
A fire & smoke curtain is a fire curtain fitted with smoke seals and therefore offers the best fire and smoke resistance in one product.
All three products products must be deployed in an appropriate manner to meet the building’s fire safety strategy.
A smoke curtain in operation at a retail shop
Fire resistance level
All fire curtains and smoke curtains are performance tested and the results are provided in three categories:
Fire integrity (E) – the curtain’s ability to stop the spread of fire – tested up to 1000 °C – measured in minutes.
Irradiance performance (W)– the transference of heat generated by the fire and radiated to the non-fire side. It is the time in minutes for the radiation on the non-fire side to reach 15 kW/m2.
Thermal insulation (I) – the heat absorbed by the curtain, allowing the non-fire side to be touched by human skin without burning. Measured in minutes
The performance in these three categories can be stated individually or in combination to provide a fire resistance level (FRL) for a curtain.
Fire resistance level is rated on a scale of 60 to 240 minutes.
Fire curtains are tested to BS EN 16034-1 and manufactured in conjunction with EN 13241-1 & EN 13501-2 and are classified as a machine, requiring the CE identification.
Government legislation changed 1st November 2019. All new fire curtains and smoke curtains must be fire tested and compliant to latest standard BS EN 16034:2014 & CE Marked to BS EN 13241-1:2003. Products tested to 2008 standard are prohibited by law.
All of HAG’s fire curtains have been independently tested and CERTIFIRE certified by the international fire testing experts at Warringtonfire. Test reports are available on application.
Fire curtains are normally wired into their independent, programmable interface panels, to automatically operate when the mains alarm / alarm device is activated. A fiberglass curtain is guaranteed closure wih the implementation of a gravity failsafe control panel, referred to as a GFS.
Fire curtains are held in the open position on a day-to-day basis, closing in the event of a fire with a pre-programmed closing protocol which could be delayed drop, split drop or immediate full closure.
The surrounding structure must match the specified fire/smoke product to maintain integrity. All fire and smoke products require regular testing and maintenance under UK law.
Fire curtain features (optional or specified)
AV (audio visual) panels can be attached to any fire/smoke curtain system and are wired into the GFS panel. On activation of the mains alarm/ alarm device, the AV panel activates a flashing beacon and
audio alarm signalling the imminent closure of the safety curtain.
Split drop system is designed to allow a temporary means of escape while still initially containing smoke. On activation, the curtain will drop to a pre-destined height and hold, thusallowing personnel to escape. After a pre-destined time lapse (programmable from 1 second to 1 hour), the curtain automatically descends to its closed position.
Delayed drop system, on activation the curtain will hold in place until the timer has lapsed and close in one action. Any AV units attached will activate on the first signal.
Beam Sensor, a device that monitors static objects inside the line of the curtain drop. Any object that breaks the beam for more than a pre-programmed time (eg 30 minutes), will activate the control panel warning of the obstruction and raising the alarm.
Emergency retract button (ERB) is a non-latching button, similar to a domestic light switch, than ONLY becomes live when an alarm has been activated and a curtain has closed. It is placed either side of the curtain and will operate the curtain to roll up so as to allow escape from either side; the curtain will roll up for as long as the switch is depressed, so as soon as the person activating it is through and releases the switch, the curtain automatically re-descends to its closed position.
Mounting of fire curtains
Fire curtains can replace the more traditional fire doors in some cases, leading to more open corridors and doorways. A fire curtain fits into a slim box casing that sits out of the way above your doors or hatches, dropping automatically only when it is needed. The casing can be specified to a suitable RAL colour to blend in with your interior colour scheme. This inconspicuous design makes it perfect for areas where space is important.
Hospitals are a good example of a premises that can benefit from this type of fire protection where heavy fire doors or shutters with their frames and guide rails would reduce the width of the corridor hindering the movement of staff, patients as well as beds and wheelchairs.
Neither fire curtains nor smoke curtains provide any level of physical security; fire shutters should be used if this is required (see this guide to fire shutters).
There are many components that make up the design of a fire or smoke curtain which work together in the event of an emergency to keep the building occupants safe from harm, and property safe from damage.
The curtain is manufactured from a woven fibreglass and stainless-steel fabric with a coating of intumescent silicone. Metal studs are sewn down the side of the curtain to ensure its correct position in the guide frames whilst in operation.
A smoke seal provides an all-round physical barrier to prevent smoke passing through the construction of a fire curtain.
Two galvanised steel side guide rails of 100 mm x 50 mm.
Two galvanised steel head plates hold the shaft with the curtain, sizing dependent upon the height of the application.
The fire curtain assembly comprises of a box housing at high level in which sits the shaft, tubular motor and wrapped curtain. The box is attached to channel section guides at each end.
A galvanised steel angle either side of the curtain, bolted together, forms a ‘T’ shaped bottom section to aid in the gravity drop of the curtain and provide a flat seal across the bottom/floor.
Head box, guides and bottom rail are galvanised at source and can be powder coated as required to any standard RAL or BS4800 colour. Fire curtains are naturally silver grey or charcoal finish, dependent on specification.
Controls Curtains are supplied with gravity failsafe control panel with in-built lead-acid battery support.
Dependant on the site fire protection requirements, various options are available to ensure compliance:
Audio/visual warning devices
Emergency retract switches
Split drop & delayed drop programmes
7. Product Specifications
HAG offers three ranges of fire and/or smoke curtains:
Fireguard HF240 fire curtain
A premium fire resisting curtain giving 240 minutes fire protection with the added benefit of up to 60 minutes irradiance shield. This adaptable self-closing fire curtain can be installed in suspended or solid ceilings. Unlimited widths can be obtained by overlapping curtains.
Tested and compliant to BS EN 1634
Full CE Compliance (conformity certificates on request)
Fireguard HFS Plus fire & smoke curtain
Incorporating smoke seals it is designed to provide safe evacuation routes in proximity to the fire curtain and protection for close contact. It provides fire and smoke protection for up to 240 minutes with added irradiance shield up to 60 minutes.
Tested and compliant to BS1634-1 (fire) BS1634-3 (smoke leakage) (subject to width/height limits).
Fireguard HS120 smoke curtain
This highly adaptable smoke protection system can be specified to be either fixed or automated to protect escape routes. The smoke curtain can be manufactured with unlimited width and can be installed discreetly for low headroom. Protects against the spread of smoke for up to 120 minutes.
Tested and compliant to BS EN12101-1:2005.
Comparison between the ranges:
HS240 Fire Curtain
HFS Plus Fire & Smoke Curtain
HS120 Smoke Curtain
Fire integrity (E)
Smoke safe (D)
All systems come with a GFS control panel. This takes the alarm signal from the mains alarm system, or localised detectors, and performs its closing protocols. In the event of a power outage, the system is designed to self-close when the internal battery pack drops below safe operating voltage – thus ensuring continuity of safety.
The control panel comes with numerous other features including timer delay, 2-stage closure, and is fully programmable pre- or post-installation.
8. Maintenance & Safety Checks
Like with any mechanical doors, it is important to make sure your doors are regularly serviced. According to Regulation 5 of the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, all powered doors must be “checked at regular intervals, as appropriate, by inspection, testing, adjustment, lubrication, repair and cleaning.”
If you are the owner of a property, you must comply with certain laws to prevent the spread of flames and smoke. According to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, all emergency doors must be regularly serviced. It states that: “…the responsible person must ensure that the premises and any facilities, equipment and devices provided are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state and in efficient working order and in good repair”.
Fire curtains must be serviced every six (6) months to ensure they are in working condition. Risk assessments must be performed to identify and remove all fire risks, which includes checks to the door.
According to the Local Government Association, failure to provide adequate fire safety measures can be punished by a fine “currently of up to £5,000 in the Magistrates’ Court, or by an unlimited fine and/or two years imprisonment in the Crown Court.”
9. Door regulations
You will need to follow certain regulations to ensure your fire curtain is in optimum condition.
One of the first steps is making sure the correct signage is visible above any fire door in a non-domestic building. It should have signage on both sides. The sign should indicate clearly that it is a fire door. Watch for further details such as “Keep Locked” to keep the premises safe.
Escape routes including corridors and staircases should be properly protected. In any domestic dwelling which has two or more levels, any door which leads to the staircase must be indicated as a fire door.
Whilst the required fire resistance period cannot be lowered, it is important to understand that the minimum is usually 60 minutes. In any other situation 30-minute fire doors are allowed.
Whilst both are fabric-based products deployed by a fire control system they have different design and characteristics. A fire curtain is designed to prevent the spread of fire whilst a smoke curtain is designed to spread of smoke. Neither provide physical security.
All HAG products come with a comprehensive 12-month warranty covering parts and labour.
11. Why choose HAG Ltd?
Businesses will be able to find fire curtains and smoke curtains to keep their premises safe by choosing HAG Doors Ltd. The company was established in 1983 and has developed into a major player in the doors industry, providing all aspects of design, manufacture, installation and after-care.
As members of the Door and Hardware Federation (DHF), Automatic Door Suppliers Association (ADSA), Safe Contractor and Constructionline, HAG is committed to providing a superior level of service and adhering to all associations’ codes of conducts.
HAG’s fire curtains are constructed using mainly British-sourced materials and manufactured to the very highest testing authority, Warringtonfire.
Commitment to manufacturing high quality engineered products
Trusted company used by market leaders throughout the UK
Products compliant with relevant BS and EU Standards
Trained employees delivering exceptional service.
12. Services offered by HAG Ltd.
HAG’s system design service can help end users and architects integrate built-for-purpose fire curtains and doors into their premises. Our team will work with you to gain an understanding of the type of door system required, helping us to produce a design that meets security needs, expected usage and cycle, aesthetics, safety requirements and your budget.
HAG provide an unequalled quality service during the installation process, with in-house qualified engineers equipped with industry relevant training and experience. Full contractual compliances are adhered to, with all engineers trained in all aspects of site process and management.
Maintenance and Repair Service
HAG operates 24/7, 365 days a year across England, Wales and Scotland. We provide skilled service and repair engineers who are qualified to NVQ level 2 to provide responsive and effective solutions.
HAG offers a 12-month warranty on all new products, which means your products are guaranteed to work with efficiency and ease. At the end of the 12 months, you will be given the option to extend your warranty service for your chosen timespan.
Online Service Manager
The HAG Online Service Manager is an industry first. The software allows us to deliver prompt customer care and efficiency standards. HAG is here to ensure there is a quick installation, and space is managed efficiently, with our high-quality knowledge and fast communication.
Architects, specifiers, contractors and building owners have security and assurance in choosing a fire shutter that conforms to the latest government standards BS EN 16034:2014 and is CE compliant. If you need help talk to the door specialists on 0800 072 3444
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
3rd Party Cookies
This website uses the following cookies:
Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.
Intercom Messenger chat to collect information so that you can chat to us. These cookies allow this interaction by remembering who you are and providing access to previous conversations you've had through the Messenger.
Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!