All public, commercial, and industrial buildings should have measures in place to comply with health and safety laws for fire prevention. Fires can start unexpectedly and spread quickly, especially if there are no measures to contain the fire or get people out of the area safely.

The most recent figures from the Home Office reveal that of the 147,295 fires that happened in England in 2020–2021, 8,155 fires occurred in non-domestic properties – causing damage to 1000m2 or more of the building in 20% of these cases. Retail and industrial premises were also revealed to have been the locations of the most fires aside from non-residential private and public buildings.

From shops to warehouses to factories, fires can get out of control fast if there are large spaces full of flammable materials for them to spread through. Not only does this put lives at risk, but it can also cause thousands to hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of property damage.

This is why it’s so important to take fire safety measures seriously – and why equipment like fire shutters can be invaluable in helping to keep fires at bay. Here’s what you should know about how fire shutters work and where you can install them to make your premises safer.

What are fire shutters?

Fire shutters are similar to the metal roller shutters that you often see forming security barriers in front of doors and windows. However, fire shutters are made from thicker laths of galvanised steel, designed to withstand the heat of flames and smoke for much longer than a standard shutter door.

Fire-resistant shutters are typically fitted over openings in areas that may have a higher fire risk, so that if they’re needed, they can drop down and close off the area to compartmentalise the fire. The shutter forms a fire barrier that prevents flames and smoke from passing through for a limited time.

A shutter holding back a fire for a minimum of 30–60 minutes can make all the difference in successfully evacuating the building and reducing property damage. It allows time for firefighters to reach the premises and put the fire out, keeping flames and smoke contained in the meantime.

How does a fire shutter work?

Fire shutters operate similarly to security roller shutters, featuring a door panel made of metal laths that run through guide channels on either side of the opening. When not in use, fire shutters are rolled up around a barrel to be stored out of sight in a metal headbox above the opening. Typically, these shutters are kept open and only closed when activated by the building’s fire alarm system.

The shutter can be programmed to operate in different ways according to your fire safety plan. Usually, fire shutters will be connected to the main fire control panel and will be triggered to automatically roll down by a signal from an activated fire alarm or smoke detector.

It’s possible to programme motor-operated fire shutters to either close completely when activated, or close halfway to keep an escape route open for as long as possible. A smoke or heat detector can then trigger the shutter to close fully when the smoke or flames are nearby to seal off the passage.

Standard electric roller shutters must have a back-up manual system in case of power failure, but it’s even more important for a fire shutter to have a back-up system to ensure that it doesn’t fail and allow fire to spread after loss of mains power. Whether there’s a blackout or the fire has damaged the power source or connections, the fire shutter should have a gravity fail-safe that triggers the brake release so the door drops closed from its own weight if power is lost.

At Roller Shutter Services, our electric fire shutters are made from 75mm thick galvanised steel panels and fitted with an interface panel and back-up battery. These fire-rated shutters have been tested to BS 476-22:1987 and BS EN 1634-1:2008 standards and are designed to last 1 hour (60 minutes) in the event of a fire.

Where can you install fire shutters?

When installed as part of a wider system of fire safety measures like fire alarms, smoke detectors, and sprinklers, fire shutters are very effective at limiting the damage that flames and smoke can do when left to run rampant through high-risk spaces.

Fire shutters can be fitted over any access point between buildings or parts of a building, such as doors and windows, both internally and externally. They’re commonly found above storeroom entrances and separating loading bays from interiors.

Any premises that contain large quantities of flammable materials should consider fitting fire shutters over openings to other areas – for example, industrial and commercial kitchens and laboratories. Some of the various places that can benefit from fire shutters include:

  • Factories and warehouses
  • Canteens and restaurants
  • Retail units and shopping centres
  • Hospitals, universities, prisons
  • Scientific laboratories
  • Power plants and chemical plants

Equipment like a fire shutter is essential wherever flames could easily spread from one section of a building to another, or between buildings that are close together. It must be installed on masonry or structural steel that has the same level of fire resistance or above, since the fire barrier will only be as strong as the walls holding it in place.

When fitted over doorways or noted escape routes, fire shutters must have an anti-drop brake that allows the activated shutter to stay halfway open until triggered to shut completely by excessive temperature or smoke levels, allowing people to still escape under it.

Order bespoke fire shutters with RSS

Every minute counts in an emergency, and fire shutters can save both lives and property when used correctly. Fires can happen anywhere at any time, so why put yourself and others at risk when you could save time and money with preventative measures like fire shutters?

Of course, you’ll need to choose high-quality fire shutters from a trusted provider, who has the experience and skills to manufacture and install the exact product you want – like the team here at Roller Shutter Services.

In addition to supplying fire shutters and a range of roller shutters in Bolton and the surrounding areas, we also provide roller shutter repairs in Bolton and across the North West. Our 24/7 call-out service can get faulty shutters up and running again whenever you need us.

You can also set up ongoing maintenance, ensuring that you can keep up with legal requirements for fire shutter servicing, while ensuring that your shutters are always in working order.

To discuss our fire shutters or request a quote for a custom order, give us a call on 0800 328 9356, or email us at and we’ll be in touch to discuss your requirements.

We will Beat Any Written or Online Comparable Quotation

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