What Are Smoke Curtains?
As the name suggests, a smoke curtain stops and controls the spread of smoke in a building. They provide essential smoke compartmentation, containment and channelling for safe extraction from the building.
Used in place of traditional non-loading bearing walls, smoke doors and smoke screens, smoke curtains offer greater flexibility for designers and architects enabling open plan areas to be greater in size than allowed under the current fire safety standards.
The SmokeStop, Coopers Fire’s signature smoke curtain, is comprised of technologically advanced fire-resistant fabric encased in a compact steel housing. The smoke barrier remains invisibly retracted until activated by an alarm or detector signal, at which time they descend safely to their operational position.
Smoke curtains form a critical element of smoke and heat exhaust ventilation systems (SHEVS). Such systems create a smoke-free layer above the floor by removing smoke and heat and improve the conditions for a safe escape. This assists the evacuation of people from buildings, whilst also reducing fire damage and financial loss by preventing smoke logging, enabling fire-fighting, reducing temperatures and delaying the spread of fire.
Compartmentation or Open Space – The SmokeStop Series Allows For Both!
In short there are three main benefits of using a smoke curtain over more traditional compartmentation methods:
- Creates larger and safer open spaces.
- Increases yield of workable/chargeable floor space.
- Creates clear lines of sight by removing uninsulated glazed screens.
However, these benefits are far more meaningful when discussed:
- Traditional compartmentation methods restrict movement, light and visibility. They may result in additional labour being required and additional machinery if the machines are not in a common area.
- By allowing for larger open plan premises and greater freedom of movement, smoke curtains can help boost day-to-day activity, while at the same time ensuring adequate smoke compartmentation in the event of a fire. As a result, smoke curtains can improve business continuity and result in lower insurance premiums. Smoke curtains can form a major part of any manufacturing facility’s disaster recovery programme.
- Compartmentation may also result in a loss of natural light, requiring extra lighting; and loss of natural ventilation, requiring additional mechanical ventilation. Furthermore, traditional fire shutters are very heavy and may result in a need for additional secondary steelwork; they are also limited in width, resulting in a need for multiple columns or pillars to support them.
Smoke Curtain Application
Smoke curtains are lighter than the more traditional products and afford greater design freedom and openness, as well as allowing for increased freedom of movement.
Consequently, smoke curtains have been used in all types of buildings and in a range of applications to form compartments or protected routes in buildings.
They can be used to divide buildings with large open spaces into smaller and safer compartments; to close openings in compartment walls or ceilings, or to close open compartment shafts such as escalators or stairwells. They are also used to protect atria, lift lobbies and for boundary protection to prevent the vertical smoke spread or even building proximity issues.
To comply with fire safety legislation, smoke curtains must be protected from the occurrence of a short circuit and/or total power failure. In most systems this takes the form of an electro-mechanical fail-safe system, such as Coopers Fire’s Total Gravity Fail-Safe system. Coopers Fire was the original patentee for this type of mechanism, which set the benchmark for active smoke barriers worldwide.
The SmokeStop Smoke Curtain: A Case Study: ADIDAS SUPERSTORE, PARIS
What Was Adidas Looking For in a Smoke Curtain?
When Adidas opened the world’s largest Sports Performance Store in Paris, protecting the store’s multi-storey retail configuration from smoke required careful consideration, in order to comply with stringent smoke and fire regulations.
To ensure safety, architects stipulated that a series of smoke curtain barriers should be installed to protect the upper floors of the 1,750 sq.m store from filling with smoke in the event of a fire.
How Did We Help?
Coopers Fire was commissioned to design and manufacture a bespoke smoke curtain barrier system that, in the event of a fire, would guard against smoke penetrating the upper floors of the store.
Via our regional partner we installed a series of SmokeStop vertical smoke curtains above each escalator. There were designed to protect all means of escape for customers and staff alike, whilst at the same time controlling the spread of toxic smoke around the building.
The SmokeStop active smoke curtain remains completely concealed within the ceiling until activated by a fire or heat detector. Thus, the SmokeStop provides an effective method of compartmentalising smoke and protecting all means of escape.
As regulations covering smoke containment systems in public buildings are becoming infinitely more stringent, leading architects and designers have turned to Coopers to help realise open plan designs, without compromising on safety.
At Coopers Fire, our commitment to advancing smoke curtain technology has led us to develop a wide range of BS, EN and tested to UL standard smoke curtains that enable designers to create open plan environments by replacing smoke-rated walls, bulkheads, glazing and down stands, with approved smoke curtains.
From the extra wide SmokeStop™ vertical smoke curtains installed to compartmentalise Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3, to the evacU8® vertical smoke curtains employed to help York Minster open up new areas of the Cathedral to the public, our smoke curtains work with every building application to provide designers with smoke protection solutions.
For further information on Coopers Fire range of vertical and horizontal smoke curtains and fire barrier systems visit www.coopersfire.com