Improving Warehouse Fire Safety With Draft Curtains


Your warehouse may not be as secure against a fire as you think.

While all warehouses must be designed to comply with fire safety codes and align with standard OSHA fire safety regulations, these legal requirements should be considered the minimum level of safety possible for a warehouse.

A warehouse that is built to code and easily passes a fire safety inspection still has room for improvement. With an average of $155 million in property damage to warehouses annually, taking prevention a step further makes financial sense. Investing in stronger fire defenses now can save you money in the future.

While there are many ways to fortify your warehouse, draft curtains are an excellent example of an affordable and highly effective means of improving fire and smoke control.

Design and Purpose of Draft Curtains


Draft curtains are a style of smoke curtain that is installed in a warehouse's ceiling framing. They're easy to install and require no remodeling as they attach directly to the wood or metal beams within the ceiling.

Most draft curtains are made of a smoke- and fire-resistant fiberglass material to control smoke as it billows in the warehouse. And although the curtains are fire-resistant, they normally aren’t exposed to direct flames as since they are high in the ceiling.

A draft curtain performs a very important purpose. In the event of a fire, smoke rises and spreads throughout the ceiling of the warehouse because of an event called ceiling jet.

Ceiling jet is a term describing the natural air flow within an enclosed space during a fire. Ceiling jets carry smoke and exacerbate a fire quickly in a warehouse, so interrupting the ceiling jet in order to slow and redirect smoke is vital.

Draft curtains form a physical barrier that slows smoke movement while also helping to channel the ceiling jet toward a vent. Rather than smoke freely spreading out among the rafters, it’s contained and being pushed out of roof vents.

While standard roof vents work well with draft curtains, but you can enhance your safety system by installing powered exhaust fans to pull smoke up and out of the warehouse.

Benefits of Installing Draft Curtains in Warehouses

The advantages of draft curtains include their effectiveness at smoke control, adaptability with existing systems and potential for reducing damage to property and injuries.

While draft curtains form a physical barrier against smoke, they work best when combined with other smoke control features. A draft curtain along with exhaust fans performs better than either tool alone.

Draft curtains are highly versatile and can easily be installed in existing warehouses. As semi-permanent additions, these curtains can be removed during renovations if access to girders or beams is necessary and then quickly reinstalled.


Draft curtains also work well in warehouses with sprinkler systems. By redirecting the ceiling jet through roof exhausts and slowing smoke movement, draft curtains can help delay sprinkler activation.

Water from sprinklers does dampen smoke and extinguish flames, but in the process, it can also damage expensive equipment. Water from sprinklers can also pose a dangerous slipping hazard on warehouse concrete floors. Lengthening the time between an evacuation alarm and water sprinklers activating can help prevent slipping injuries to workers.

Delayed sprinkler onset is safe and reduces water exposure while giving staff time to move sensitive tools and equipment out of the way without slipping or falling.

Although they are rare, warehouses without a sprinkler system benefit greatly from draft curtains, as they are the primary form of smoke and fire safety.

Selecting Quality Draft Curtains for Your Warehouse


The draft curtains you choose for your warehouse should be high-quality, reliable and code-compliant to ensure maximum protection.

When choosing your curtains, make sure to use a reputable company that meets the NFPA 92 standards for smoke control systems, such as Smoke Guard. They produce a variety of different smoke and fire curtains for all types of industrial settings. Their SG Draft Curtain is specifically designed for manufacturing and storage environments, including warehouses.

Due to the variable nature of warehouse designs, Smoke Guard offers their draft curtain in custom widths with several drop lengths to accommodate different ceiling heights and can be installed in a semi-permanent or temporary fashion.

The curtain itself is made of a specialized glass filament fabric, which is a non-combustible, fire-resistant material. The dual-layered glass fiber fabric prevents smoke from passing through and can endure heat or direct flame contact for an extended period of time.

Draft curtains are an affordable and effective way of enhancing the existing fire safety system in your warehouse. For more information on Smoke Guard’s SG Draft Curtains, or to find a distributor near you, contact customer service today.