Fire Shutters vs. Fire Curtains: A Quick Guide

What are fire curtains?

A fire curtain is a flexible fire resistant curtain used to contain and prevent the spread of smoke and fire within a building. They are typically produced using a mixture of synthetic and treated materials to improve their resistance to fire.

Much like a roller shutter; a fire curtain unrolls downwards when it’s needed, otherwise it is retracted and hidden away within the metal casing. Fire curtains are effective smoke resistant seals and can massively reduce the risk of death by toxic smoke. Did you know, that toxic smoke inhalation typically causes more fire-related deaths than the fires themselves.


What are fire shutters?

Fire shutters are slatted steel roller shutters designed to compartmentalise buildings and prevent the spread of fire and smoke. Like fire curtains, fire shutters are used in active fire protection systems, meaning they automatically open or close on the activation of a fire alarm. Although fire shutters provide a basic level of security, it is not possible to meet both fire resistance and security standards on a single shutter. Fire shutters are required to close automatically, whilst in current regulations automatic closing is not permitted for high security shutters.


Compartmentation using active fire protection

Fire curtains and shutters are types of active fire protection systems – meaning they automatically respond to the presence of fire via a connection to a central fire alarm. They are designed to prevent the spread of smoke and fire using compartmentation, where fires are sealed off from other ‘compartments’ of large or complex buildings. Compartmentation can also provide safe passage to people escaping from a burning building. Other types of active fire protection include; sprinkler systems, alarms and fire shutters. 


The effectiveness of fire curtains and fire shutters

Fire curtains and shutters provided by S&S are governed by strict regulations outlined by: BS 476-22 or EN 1634-1 for fire resistance rating and BS 476-31.1 or EN 1634-3 for smoke resistance rating.

Fire curtains and shutters are effective at containing fire for between 0.5-4 hours. Depending on the thickness and gauge of the steel, fire shutters can offer resistance in time intervals of 30, 60, 90, 120 or 240 minutes. By restricting air movement between spaces, fire curtains and shutters can reduce the flow of oxygen to the fire, slowing the rate at which it spreads whilst also containing the smoke. Note that fire curtains are more effective at creating a smoke-resistant seal.


Fire curtains or fire shutters?

You should choose a fire curtain or a shutter depending on your specific needs. 

If you require a smoke-resistant seal, then you should choose a fire curtain. 

If you require added security, then you should choose a fire shutter. 

Fire shutters are generally cheaper than fire curtains, however, fire curtains may be more suitable depending on the space you have. When rolled up, fire curtains take up less space yet they can also span wider distances as they weigh much less. 


If you need help in choosing the correct roller system or your property, contact our friendly team at [email protected], or give us a call on 0800 112 0083.


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