What Are the Differences Between Fire Shutters vs. Fire Curtains?

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There are many ways that you can add smoke and fire mitigation systems to a building. These systems are often required by law, as they’re important to help protect your building and its occupants from the harmful effects of smoke and fire.

Two different components of passive mitigation systems are fire shutters and fire curtains. These two products sound similar but are very different from one another in use, placement and material. While both can be used to help mitigate and protect from flame, it’s important to understand their differences so you know when to use each one to get the best protection for your building.

What Is a Fire Shutter?

Fire shutters are metal, roll-up shutters that are fastened on exterior windows and doors. They’re designed to cover single windows and doors in the event of a fire, to help prevent the flames from spreading to the exterior of the building and to other buildings nearby.

The fire shutters are housed in a protruding, metal case that is fastened above the windows or doors they’re installed on. When deployed, they roll down over the opening and fasten shut. Once closed, they act as a physical barrier to prevent flames from getting through.

It’s important to note that these shutters are designed for exterior use only: They aren’t made for interior doors or areas, and they are designed to cover a single door or window. They aren’t made to cover wide openings, unusually shaped doors or windows, and they can’t turn corners or wrap around an opening or object to protect it. They can be a key part of fire mitigation, but they aren’t enough on their own.

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What Are Fire Curtains?

Fire curtains are flame-retardant material curtains that can be used anywhere indoors that you want to control flame or smoke. They can fit discreetly in indoor doorways, elevators and openings, becoming visible only once they are deployed.

While a fire shutter is hard and inflexible, designed to fit only a single opening, fire curtains can be made to fit openings of any kind. This includes wide stairways, corners, atriums and other areas that a metal shutter cannot fit or protect.

Fire curtains act the same way that a fire shutter does. They help stop the spread of flames and smoke, containing it until the fire can be extinguished. Since flames and smoke can spread quickly indoors, particularly through openings and into open spaces, fire curtains can be the first line of defense against a fire getting out of control.

Fire curtains are made of a flexible, flame retardant material, rather than metal, so they have several advantages over fire shutters. They can roll up tightly and discreetly when not in use, so they aren’t obvious or detracting from the aesthetics of the interior.

Curtains can also bend and wrap in ways that metal cannot. This means that the curtains can be used to block corners, such as a landing that turns 90 degrees. They can also be used to lower down around something, completely blocking and shielding it from the flames.

This can be of particular use in museums or in historic buildings where there are documents or works of art that cannot easily be blocked off. Fire curtains can be lowered as needed to contain and protect an area, no matter what its size or shape, or where inside the building it’s located.

Creating the Ideal Protection System

Every ideal fire mitigation system will have several different components, both active and passive. This means that it isn’t enough to have sprinklers if you can’t control and contain the flames and smoke. Directing or containing smoke and flames won’t do much if you don’t have a system to put it out or ventilate.

Fire shutters and fire curtains can both be a part of a successful fire mitigation system. Having fire shutters can help protect the building’s exterior and prevent the spread of flames to neighboring buildings. Having fire curtains can help contain the movement of smoke and flames indoors while protecting other spaces within the building at the same time.

Protect Your Building’s Interior

If your building has fire shutters, then you have some degree of exterior protection. Make sure your interior gets just as much, if not more, protection by adding fire curtains as well.

Whether you have open areas you need to compartmentalize, wide openings without doors or barriers you need to cover, or displays and objects you need to protect, fire curtains can help you get the level of protection you need. Make sure you add fire curtains to your building interiors to ensure that you have the best possible protection from both fire and smoke.

Contact Smoke Guard today for more information on protecting your building with fire and smoke curtains.