Protecting Your Residential Building From Excessive Smoke Damage

As a building owner, you know the great impact a fire can have on your property. Even the smallest fires can leave lasting (and sometimes irreparable) damage. Once the flames are extinguished and the smoke clears, assessing fire and smoke damage can be overwhelming, especially if there weren’t many safeguards in place to protect your building. 

It doesn’t take long for smoke to become a destructive force. The following is an example of how quickly smoke can damage your building:

  • Minutes: Smoke will begin to stain walls and any other porous surface. 

  • Hours: Metal, grout and other materials start to permanently tarnish and stain. 

  • Days: Walls begin to turn yellow, metals corrode and rust, and wooden furniture will be destroyed. 

  • Weeks: Permanent corrosion has taken place throughout your building, potentially releasing toxic fumes into the air.

Smoke Management Systems

Preparation is the key to smoke control during fires. One of the main ways you can protect your residential building from excessive smoke damage is through the use of a smoke management system (smoke control system). These systems are becoming increasingly popular in multi-story buildings (residential and commercial), parking garages, shopping malls, warehouses and manufacturing facilities.

The main function of all smoke management systems is keeping escape routes clear of smoke. This gives both occupants and fire & rescue teams safer and faster egress routes. These systems also help protect the contents of a building and can also play a role in reducing structural damage. 

There are two basic types of smoke management systems:

  1. Active Smoke Systems: These typically use mechanical equipment to move smoke through a smoke exhaust or evacuation system. These systems can be costly to create and maintain, and they require a backup power source to operate in case of a power loss during a fire. 

  2. Passive Smoke Systems: These systems use smoke and fire-rated curtains in tandem with other fire and smoke control elements to compartmentalize smoke, without requiring the support of another mechanical system. Fire and smoke curtains have been used as protection for some time in elevators and are now gaining popularity for use throughout other parts of buildings.

Let’s look at some of the more common smoke management systems, see how they work with other smoke management elements and learn how you can enhance their effectiveness.

Common Smoke Management Methods

While most of these smoke control methods are now either required by law or have become commonplace, it’s important to review the role they play in smoke management. With the right planning, all these smoke control elements have the capability to work together to create a total smoke management system for your building.

  • Smoke Alarms: A first line of defense, smoke alarms are usually a building requirement. For an added layer of protection, you can connect these alarms to others so when the alarms sound, all other alarms will activate, creating full awareness of an emergency.

  • HVAC Systems: An HVAC system’s fans and dampers can be used to control smoke by changing their mode of operation to push smoke outside. To help enhance smoke control, you can also connect this system to smoke alarms or connect the internal fan system to a smoke control trigger.  

  • Sprinklers: Sprinklers are ideal for quickly extinguishing flames and reducing the level of smoke. Consider installing them in kitchen areas—one of the most common places for fires to start—for additional protection.

  • Smoke and Fire Curtains: These curtains can prevent smoke from entering elevators and help reduce smoke flow between floors. Most smoke curtains are designed to work in tandem with other fire and smoke control elements, making them an integral part of smoke management.

Because of their versatility, smoke curtains are particularly good ways to enhance smoke management in your building. Let’s take a closer look at smoke curtains and review the types of curtains that work best in residential buildings.

Elevator Smoke Curtains

Installing elevator smoke curtains on each floor will create a barrier system at the elevator door opening and shaft, preventing smoke from traveling so building occupants and first responders have safer exit routes. This ability to stop smoke in its tracks also means you are protecting the contents and the structure of your building from further, more serious smoke damage.

Smoke Guard’s M200 and M400 elevator curtains meet or exceed code regulations and offer extensive protection for your building. These smoke curtains are connected to smoke detectors in the elevator landing area and are deployed when the alarm goes off or there is a power loss. 

Operable from either side of the smoke curtain, both curtain styles will magnetically adhere to the elevator frame to create a tight barrier. They can also rewind and then re-deploy if someone needs to enter or exit the elevator.

Vertical Smoke Curtains

If your building has larger open spaces (like an atrium), wall openings or other specialty enclosures, vertical smoke curtains are an ideal option to reduce the flow of smoke through those areas. These curtains are housed in the ceiling and deploy downward, dividing larger spaces in half and creating safer exit routes for building occupants and first responders. 

Watch how the M2100 works.


Smoke Guard’s M2100 Fire + Smoke vertically deploying curtain offers dual protection for large spaces and can be powered by emergency power sources for up to 18 hours after a power loss. It has 2-hour fire endurance ratings, complies with the UL 10D standard and is rated to UL 1784.  

Protect Your Building

Always consider the potential damage smoke can cause to your building and its occupants. Going above and beyond fire and safety regulations can minimize damage costs and even save lives. Be sure to inspect and test your system every six months and keep a record of your testing schedule.

Contact Smoke Guardto speak with a professional to learn more about smoke protection for your building.