All large buildings for public, commercial, or industrial use should have fire prevention measures and a fire escape plan in place to comply with safety laws.
According to the Home Office, 20% of serious fires in England in 2021–2022 occurred in non-dwellings, and fires causing the most damage to the building happened in agricultural and industrial premises specifically.
Businesses with premises like these, or any building with high volumes of flammable materials or machinery, would benefit from extra fire prevention features such as fire shutters.
But what exactly are fire shutters, and how do they work? Here’s what you should know about these specialist roller shutters.
What do fire shutters do?
You’ve likely seen metal roller shutters used as a security feature over shopfronts and similar premises. Fire shutters are similar, being thicker and tougher steel shutters designed to hold up against a fire much longer than standard metal shutters would.
These shutters are typically used as part of a larger fire prevention system, including smoke detectors, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers throughout the building.
The fire shutters will be installed over an opening that could give fires an opportunity to spread, instead rolling down and cutting off the passage to hold back the flames and smoke. This should form a fire-resistant barrier, limiting the damage to one area.
They’re usually installed in places that have a higher risk of fire, such as storage areas, kitchens, and laboratories. Preventing fires from jumping from one area to another is especially important in large buildings or clusters of smaller buildings that are close together.
Though fire shutters will only restrict a fire for a limited time, they are designed to do so for long enough that the building can be evacuated and firefighters can arrive on the scene to extinguish the flames. This can undoubtedly save lives and reduce property damage.
Most shutters of this type have a fire rating proving that they have been tested to British Standards and will maintain their heat integrity for a minimum of 30 minutes. Some can be designed to withstand fire for an hour or more, while others may also be rated for smoke resistance.
How does a fire shutter work?
Fire shutters operate in much the same way as standard roller shutters, except they are kept out of sight most of the time – rolled up discreetly in a housing box above the opening – and only drop down when triggered by a smoke detector or fire alarm they’re connected to.
The closed fire shutter will seal off the passageway and prevent the spread of flames and smoke for up to half an hour or more, depending on the particular product’s fire rating. This stops the fire from causing more damage, at least temporarily, and can reduce the risk of serious injuries or fatalities.
There are different fire shutter operating systems to choose from, as they can be connected to the main control panel and programmed to either close fully or partially upon receiving certain signals. For example, the shutter could be triggered to drop halfway down by the initial fire alarm, still providing an escape route until a secondary heat or smoke sensor triggers the door to drop the rest of the way when a certain temperature is reached.
All fire shutters must also have fail-safes that allow them to operate even in a power failure or complete blackout. This could be a back-up battery, a manual hand crank, or an automatic release on loss of power that allows the shutter to descend under gravity.
If the shutter is also used as a temporary escape route or fitted over a doorway that could be a means of escape, it must have an anti-drop brake that keeps the shutter at least partially raised until triggered by a heat sensor, preventing it from closing while people may still be trying to evacuate.
Order fire shutters for your business
Fires can happen at any time, and without the proper preventative measures, flames can spread much faster than you might think – causing untold damage to property and potentially injuring people in the area, even causing death in the most serious cases.
Instead of risking such a severe level of danger and destruction, why not invest in the safety of your business, staff, and the public by installing high-quality fire shutters?
Of course, you’ll need an appropriate system for your building needs, which must also comply with Building Regulations for roller shutters in compartment walls and British/European standards for fire resistance tests and classifications.
Here at Roller Shutter Services, we don’t just provide roller shutters in Bolton and the surrounding region. We’re also experts in supplying and fitting our 75mm thick fire rated shutters, which are designed to protect your business for up to 60 minutes.
We don’t just provide roller shutter repairs in Bolton, either – we also offer ongoing maintenance contracts for fire shutters, allowing you to comply with mandatory fire shutter servicing. This way, you’ll have extra reassurance that your systems will work as they should in a real emergency.