Code Compliant Smoke Solutions for Medical Facilities

Case Study: ProHealth Cancer Center


Navigating fire and safety codes sometimes leads to sacrificing the aesthetic vision of the structure, especially when it pertains to modern-day health facilities. But by working with knowledgeable specialty distributors, unique solutions can be found that prevent unnecessary design compromise.

JWC and Smoke Guard: A Long History

JWC Building Specialties Inc. is a Wisconsin-based company specializing in the distribution, installation and servicing of specialty door and wall systems, fire and smoke curtains, and fixed auditorium seating.

JWC was an early distributor of our Smoke Guard products in the 1990s when we first started out in the Northwest United States. Jim Cogan, the president and second-generation owner of JWC, recognized the potential of smoke curtains, and worked with our creator, Tom Allen, to help them find their footing.

Now, JWC averages over 100 Smoke Guard projects a year, and we manufacture and distribute fire and smoke curtains nationwide.

Embracing Change

Since JWC began working with Smoke Guard, there have been significant changes in the Wisconsin fire and safety codes.

As you probably know the International Building Code (IBC) is a model building code in the United States and has been adopted for use as a base code standard by most jurisdictions since its creation in 1997. But the IBC was not immediately adopted by all states, and some still use their own building code today.

When Wisconsin jurisdictions began adapting their building code to be more compliant with the standards set by the IBC, some companies were not prepared and were unable to provide adequate products.

But our products were already designed to meet the IBC standard. Our smoke curtains became a necessary solution for projects struggling to meet new codes which helped both us and JWC evolve into the forward-thinking companies you see today.

ProHealth Cancer Center

When the original plans were submitted for the UW Health Cancer Center at ProHealth Care, smoke curtains were not included. The initial design actually called for folding walls instead.

But as the project progressed, the folding walls were replaced with our Smoke Guard products that offered more flexibility and better served the design and long-term goals of the medical center.

Two different models of our smoke curtains were used — the M3000 and the M4000.


There was originally no smoke curtain or alternative in the design for this specific location in the building. However, in order for the building to meet the IBC standards and to prevent smoke from spreading vertically through the building, it was necessary to find a way to close this space off in the event of an emergency.

The M3000 was the perfect solution that still allowed unobstructed openness during normal operating hours but created a separation in the case of smoke or fire. The horizontal curtain is invisible when not in use and deploys automatically during an emergency situation.


Our M4000 fire-rated curtain was chosen specifically for this project because it required no corner support post. This meant the openness of the stairwell design was preserved while fulfilling the health and safety guidelines.

Cutting Edge Technology

While it is not common for safety design features like firewalls and smoke curtains to be changed from the initial plans, when constructing a new medical location, changes are seen more frequently due to technological developments.

Medical facilities like hospitals want to make sure they have the newest technology available when building a new or renovating an existing structure. This is especially important for permanent fixtures that need to last and work reliably and effectively for decades.

Our team at Smoke Guard is focused on creating innovative solutions that exceed code specifications and the performance of fire and smoke safety alternatives. Our smoke curtains deploy automatically and easily fit into any modern design aesthetic thanks to their minimal footprint. They also offer flexibility that cannot be achieved with fire doors or walls.

JWC has implemented our smoke and fire curtains in every medical facility they’ve been involved with in the last five years, and they often bring clients specifically to the ProHealth Cancer Center so they can see what our products bring to the table.


The IBC has strict guidelines when it comes to the testing and maintenance of fire doors and related safety measures like smoke curtains. This is particularly true with hospitals and medical facilities in general who must test fire doors monthly rather than annually.

JWC not only distributes our products but also offers inspection, testing and maintenance services to ensure everything is working properly.

President Jim Cogan also notes that our products are especially easy to test and maintain. Since smoke and fire curtains are designed to remain out of the way when not in use, it is virtually impossible for them to be broken or tampered with. So, they rarely need any sort of fixing or maintenance and perform consistently and as expected when tested.

Smoke Guard: The Choice of Professionals

Jim Cogan of JWC says a good distributor is one that gets excited about the products they sell. And when it comes to our fire and smoke-rated curtains, Cogan’s excitement for the products can be seen in medical facilities across the entire state of Wisconsin.

Our products comply with all the IBC codes and offer a unique solution for modern, open concept designs while still prioritizing occupant and building safety.

Be sure to check out all that we have to offer and contact your nearest distributor for more information on our innovative fire and smoke safety solutions.