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Atrium Separation in Health Care: Part 1

Friday December 20, 2013

Health Care buildings such as hospitals and clinics provide unique obstacles when trying to satisfy building codes and also provide the security and privacy required by health care facilities. With a growing demand for energy-efficient architecture, atriums are taking advantage of natural light and open floor plans.

Luckily today’s technology in fire and smoke containment allows for many options for health care buildings.  One of the most popular options are flexible fires & smoke-rated curtains. These curtains help to compartmentalize floors and hallways to contain fire and smoke in the event of an emergency. In addition to being extremely effective with fire safety, these curtains offer energy and cost-savings with addressing code requirements.

Obviously, flexible smoke & fire-rated curtains would be beneficial to most buildings. However, they provide some significant design and safety benefits to the health care industry. The largest benefit comes from the fact that these curtains are only deployed in the event of an emergency. Therefore, they are virtually invisible when not in use. This means they are out of the way of gurneys, wheelchairs and health care personnel. Plus, unlike clunky fire doors, smoke-rated curtains can’t be as easily propped open or blocked by furniture.

From a design perspective, the benefits are very similar. Because deployable fire curtains recess into walls they won’t impede with the architecture and flow of the atrium. Whether the goal is to take advantage of natural light or provide an energy efficient way to heat or cool the building, satisfying fire codes with smoke and fire-rated curtains allow architects and contractors to maintain design aesthetics. 


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