Preventative Maintenance for Smoke and Fire Curtains

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A critical component of any fire safety and evacuation program is preventative maintenance and regular inspection. Along with fire drills to ensure building occupants know their evacuation procedures, your building operations should also include regular inspection and testing of your fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and smoke and fire curtains.

Smoke and fire curtains are a critical component of any fire and life safety system, but since they’re generally out of sight during normal day-to-day operations, it can be easy for them to become out of mind. However, in the event of an emergency, you need to know that they are going to work. Not to mention, maintaining and showing documentation of testing may be required by local fire departments and insurance providers.

When considering installing smoke and fire curtains in their building, make sure building owners and operations understand their obligations with regards to regular maintenance and inspection, both in terms of what they need to do and what needs to be completed by a qualified professional.

Getting Started

The simplest first step with regards to maintenance and inspection is to make sure the area around where the curtain will deploy remains clear. This is especially true for vertical curtains, perimeter curtains and elevator curtains. These systems only work if they extend from the ceiling or top of the elevator door all the way to the floor. Make sure the area beneath them remains clear of shelves, garbage cans or any other items that could interfere with their deployment.

Test Deployment Regularly

Building owners and operators should be familiar with local fire and building codes. These will prescribe regular testing intervals for fire and smoke curtains. 

At a minimum, Smoke Guard recommends testing deployment of curtain systems at least every six months. Also consider whether fire drill procedures should include deploying the curtains during fire drills to simulate actual points of egress in the event of a fire.

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As part of testing a smoke and fire curtain, operators will also need to test any back-up power source it is connected to. Although these curtain systems are generally wired into the building’s primary power system, a back-up system can also be connected in the event of a primary power failure. Testing procedures should include this system in addition to the curtain itself.

Inspect for Damage or Wear

When looking at the fire and smoke curtain system, a visual inspection of the track on which it is deployed should be completed to check for debris or other potential blockages that may become stuck in the track. For elevator curtains, check the face of the elevator frame for damage or grease that may interfere with the magnetic strips used to seal the elevator compartment when the curtain is deployed.

Once the curtain has been deployed as part of the test, it should be completely inspected for any signs of wear or damage. Smoke Guard curtains have a one-year manufacturer's warranty. While the curtain is out of the compartment, do a full inspection of the compartment as well, checking the lowering mechanism to make sure it’s still sound and in good repair.

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Document Everything

Whenever fire and smoke curtain maintenance and inspection is carried out, it needs to be documented thoroughly. This includes written records, including the date, time, extent of the inspection, who carried it out, any deficiencies identified and any resulting repairs completed. If any work is completed by a third party, make sure the appropriate documentation is collected from them.

Selecting the right smoke and fire curtains is only the first step in effectively protecting a building from smoke and fire damage. Without a comprehensive maintenance and inspection program, building operators cannot be confident their tenants and building occupants will be protected when it counts.

For more information on how to choose and maintain smoke and fire curtains, visit the Smoke Guard website.