Differences between Smoke curtains and Fire curtains

A Fire Curtain and a Smoke Curtain are similar in appearance and operation, but they are both used for completely different functions.

A smoke curtain is basically used as part of a smoke control system. It is there to either stop smoke reaching another zone or to channel smoke through a particular route that we want it to take. Smoke Curtains don’t descend down to ground level. (ceiling to floor) but are set at a drop height, generally above head height, so as not to interfere with the means of escape.

A fire curtain, on the other hand, is used to provide fire separation between two spaces. It may well provide smoke control at the same time, but that is not its primary purpose, which is to prevent the spread of fire, and typically it may be used to protect an open stairway or to prevent fire moving from one floor to another, through an open atrium.

Fire Curtains are required to provide two main functions:

  1. To maintain any compartmentation of buildings needed to limit the spread of fire and smoke;
  2. To allow access to protected escape routes, both vertical and horizontal, without any loss of fire resistance, and to limit smoke entry into these routes, i.e. protected corridors and protected shafts.
Performance of Smoke and Fire curtains

In terms of its performance, a smoke curtain is only expected to be exposed to smoke, so it is rated to 600oC. A fire curtain, on the other hand, may well be exposed to the fire itself and fire temperatures can be a lot higher. So, the fire curtain is fire rated against the normal ISO fire curve, which exceeds 1000oC, so it is a much higher rating and the curtain needs to be more robust in order to achieve that. If you try to use a smoke curtain in an application where a fire curtain is needed, then the smoke curtain simply will not be robust enough to withstand the fire temperatures.

Smoke curtains and fire curtains have significant
differences and are not interchangeable.

It is important to be sure about which one is needed, and to specify it properly. To make it simple to decide, fire curtains restrict the spread of fire, and smoke curtains only restrict the spread of smoke, and this is a very important difference.

Both products form important part of the building’s fire safety strategy, so it is important that they are applied properly and maintained properly once they are in place.

Do you have a current or upcoming project that requires Fire or smoke curtains?