In the absence of solid walls to limit the spread of flames and smoke, measures like fire curtains are essential to keep people and property safe. They form protective barriers that are stored out of sight until a fire alarm activates them to descend.

There are many places to install fire curtains, but they are typically found in larger buildings with higher foot traffic and fire risks, such as commercial, industrial, educational, hospitality, and healthcare buildings with stored goods and machinery.

These barriers are customisable to seal openings of different sizes, but how exactly do they work? Read on to learn more about what fire curtains are and how they are used.

What do fire curtains do?

Open floor plans are one of the most popular designs for most kinds of buildings, but having no load-bearing walls in these large spaces means there is no barrier there to stop or slow the spread of fire.

To be able to compartmentalise a room or corridor in the event of a fire without disrupting its functionality, such buildings can install fire curtains in ceilings or above door frames to seal them off.

In place of heavy shutters or doors, fire-resistant curtains can hold flames back, helping to contain the fire long enough for people in the building to evacuate and limiting damage until the firefighters can put the flames out.

Fire suppression measures like this are usually mandatory, ensuring that building designers, construction workers, owners, and inhabitants all comply with fire safety regulations at all times.

How does a fire curtain work?

The fire curtain itself is a flexible barrier, not as rigid as a metal shutter, which can be stored discreetly in a headbox until a signal from the alarm control panel triggers the curtain to deploy.

In the event of a power outage, the loss of signal can also release the curtain to descend via gravity. There will be channels either side to guide the barrier into position and achieve an effective seal.

In some cases, the curtain may be programmed to descend partway, keeping smoke at bay but remaining open as a potential access or escape route – until a sensor detects too much smoke or too high temperatures, when it will descend fully to block any flames spreading towards it.

What are fire curtains made of?

Integrated into building designs to make them practically invisible until they roll down, fire curtain systems are made up of several components that work together to form a fire-resistant barrier:

  • A control box connects to the fire alarm control panel and receives the signal to activate, also monitoring the power status and curtain position.
  • A motor control module directs the speed and stability of the curtain when it deploys or winds back up into the steel case or headbox it’s stored in.
  • Lateral steel guides fix the curtain in place to help it withstand the pressure of the fire and stop it from leaving its tracks, maintaining the seal.
  • The bottom of the curtain has a closing profile and counterweight to ensure it descends properly and remains stable in an open or closed position.
  • The fire curtain is a textile sheet woven from fibreglass filaments and stainless steel threads, reinforced with a polymer coating to resist heat.

These fire-rated curtains are carefully tested and given an integrity rating for how long they can functionally withstand the conditions of a fire, such as E30 for 30 minutes.

Fire curtains are higher-rated than smoke curtains, which prevent the spread of smoke rather than flames, but not as highly rated as fire shutters, which are stronger, but not as compact.

Fire curtain installation and maintenance

To make sure that your building is as safe as possible if a fire breaks out, you should include the appropriate fire safety measures for each space to protect people from harm and property from damage – reducing downtime and recovery costs.

If you need help making fire curtains a part of your fire protection system, reach out to Roller Shutter Services. We can manufacture and install your made-to-measure fire safety and security barriers, and help you to maintain them with service checks.

Whether you’re interested in fire curtains, smoke curtains, fire shutters, or a combination of these systems for your premises, contact our team today.

Call 0800 328 9356 or email with your enquiry and we’ll be back in touch swiftly to discuss your fire safety requirements.

We will Beat Any Written or Online Comparable Quotation

Why Not Speak To An Expert

Speak to an expert today for all the information you require. Contact Us using the form below.

    Accept GDPR policy to send email (required)*