History of Smoke Guard: Our Roots in Smoke and Fire Safety

For the last several decades, Smoke Guard has helped architects and building owners create functional, stylish designs for commercial buildings all across the United States. Smoke Guard believes that smoke and fire safety products can give your building both the distinctive design it deserves, along with code-compliant protection.


Since we opened our doors in 1991, we’ve manufactured smoke containment systems for elevators and other building openings. We’ve provided flexible fire and smoke curtain systems for companies around the country, including some familiar names such as Facebook and Spanx. 

Here’s a brief history of how Smoke Guard developed our patented products, and how we’ve gone on to protect and enhance building designs everywhere for decades. 

Protecting Our History

Since the MGM Grand Hotel fire in 1980, national awareness has grown around the risks of smoke and fire emergencies in multi-story buildings. This awareness created a demand for more solutions and products for fire safety in buildings around the United States. 

In the 1990s, Boise-area architect Tom Allen specialized in renovations, and shared the growing concern around fire and smoke hazards, especially in historic buildings. Allen had been working on a renovation project for downtown Boise’s Jefferson Building, a historic lodge hall. 

His design included an open design concept surrounding the existing elevator. Because of this project, Allen saw that he’d need a solution that allowed for his open design, but still provided fire and smoke protection to the elevator and surrounding area. It was a challenge he knew he’d encounter again.

In 1991, Allen left his architectural partnership to develop a code-compliant elevator protection product. He installed the first Smoke Guard System for elevator openings in 1993.

The Beginning Stages of Innovation

In 1993, the first employee was officially hired at Smoke Guard to help with engineering and construction on projects. The patent and code ruling for Smoke Guard were both issued soon after, in 1994. 

Between 1994 - 2002, the company grew from a “garage” start-up with just a handful of employees to a company of 35 people serving the world. The group of employees grew to include a mechanical engineer to run the new R&D department, a plant manager and, in 1998, a Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

The company went on to furnish and install fire protection products in buildings throughout the United States. Smoke Guard then introduced a lower-cost design for elevator openings in 2002, making fire protection products affordable to a wider customer base. 

From there, the company’s growth advanced even more quickly, and Smoke Guard licensed its technology to Japanese firm, Nohara. Smoke Guard gained notoriety for its success and was acquired as a subsidiary of RectorSeal in 2004. 

More Solutions for More Flexible Designs

In its expansion, Smoke Guard discovered a growing need for affordable elevator protection products and developed the M400 as a medium-priced fire protection product in 2004. 

But construction trends in commercial design continued to evolve and started featuring more expansive atriums and open areas. These floor plans allowed for more people to fit into a space and provided a more collaborative work environment in offices. But open spaces, stairways and multi-story buildings create challenges for code compliance, especially when it comes to fire safety in a building. 

So Smoke Guard introduced the M1500 curtain in 2009 and began developing more smoke protection solutions for larger spaces

After a 3-year partnership with Stoebich of Germany, Smoke Guard started offering larger smoke curtain designs in 2012: the M2100 and M2500. These large vertical curtains help designers section off expansive spaces like atriums, to help reduce smoke infiltration and make evacuation easier for occupants. 

In 2014, Smoke Guard grew its offerings again, debuting the M3000 horizontal curtain and the M4000 perimeter curtain.

Protecting the Success of Future Designs 

By providing various types of smoke curtains for any size budget, Smoke Guard makes high-quality fire and smoke protection a possibility, no matter what kind of space you’re designing. 


Our commitment to fire and smoke protection has established Smoke Guard as an industry leader. We’ve installed more than 73,000 systems worldwide to help protect all types of buildings. Smoke Guard products are featured in airports, historic buildings, hotels, museums and hospitals around the world. 

If you’re in the Western United States, Smoke Guard also provides additional services through its SG Architectural Specialties division, which helps customers install and maintain their Smoke Guard products. 

Want to learn more? Take a look at some of our favorite projects and see how we’ve helped architects and building owners find solutions for fire safety that meet local code and maintain design integrity. 

Need help designing your space for fire safety? Find a Smoke Guard distributor here.