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Fire Shutters vs. Fire Curtains: A Quick Guide

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March 29, 2020

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Max O'Neill

Fire Shutters versus Fire Curtains. Both these mechanisms offer distinct benefits, playing a unique role in preserving your safety. However, a definitive question beckons, supposing one had to choose – which would garner the honorary title of the better choice?

As experts in the field of fire shutter and curtains you can be rest assured that our analysis will be impartial, well-rounded and informed. Through this narrative, we shall touch upon the specificity of Fire Rated Shutters, Fire Curtains, and their pros and cons.

Balancing traditional wisdom with cutting-edge insights, this piece will deliver an authentic perspective on fire safety, with infused expert insight, and a pinch of enthusiasm.


What are fire curtains?

A fire curtain is a flexible fire resistant curtain used to contain and prevent the spread of smoke and fire within a building. They are typically produced using a mixture of synthetic and treated materials to improve their resistance to fire.

Much like a roller shutter; a fire curtain unrolls downwards when it’s needed, otherwise it is retracted and hidden away within the metal casing. Fire curtains are effective smoke resistant seals and can massively reduce the risk of death by toxic smoke. Did you know, that toxic smoke inhalation typically causes more fire-related deaths than the fires themselves.


The Pros of Fire Curtains

Fire curtains, an ingenious invention in the realm of fire safety, encompass a host of distinct advantages making them a widely embraced addition to many buildings and establishments in the UK.

The primary purpose of fire curtains is to act as impassable barriers to smoke and flames, effectively containing the dangerous spread. In the unfortunate event of a fire, these barriers descend quickly, creating safe enclosures or pathways that aid in swift evacuation while limiting property damage.

One notable benefit of fire curtains is their unobtrusive presence. Thanks to a lightweight and flexible design, they gracefully meld into the existing architectural format without demanding significant alterations. This makes them an ideal choice for structures aiming to maintain aesthetic integrity whilst fortifying fire safety measures.

A distinguishing advantage of fire curtains is their space efficiency. Requiring less space compared to more traditional safety installations, fire curtains provide a sensible option for buildings where large, structural alterations are not viable, or where a more discreet, minimalist approach to fire safety is preferred.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that fire retardant curtains in the UK are formulated to meet stringent regulatory standards. This means that investing in fire curtains is not only a forward step towards enhanced fire safety but also towards comprehensive legal compliance and peace of mind.

Clever, efficient, and reliable, fire curtains indeed offer many advantages worth considering when evaluating your fire safety options.


The Cons of Fire Curtains

Despite the many benefits of fire curtains, there are certain considerations one must bear in mind, as with any safety system.

Primarily, while fire curtains act as effective smoke barriers, their capacity to contain flames and high levels of heat may not match that of Fire Rated Shutters. Thus, in case of a fire that quickly escalates in intensity, they might not offer the highest level of protection possible.

Secondly, fire curtains predominantly depend on electricity to operate. In instances of power outages or electrical faults, the functionality of these curtains can be significantly compromised unless a reliable backup source is in place.

Fire curtains are not immune to eventual wear and tear, either. Frequent deployments and mechanical activity may result in fabric deterioration over time. Regular checks and timely maintenance are therefore crucial to their performance. Additionally, compared to other more robust options, these curtains may face difficulties withstanding harsh environmental conditions, such as high winds.

Lastly, fire curtains require expert installation and handling. Incorrectly installed fire curtains or those handled without the due expertise may fail to function as intended, hence compromising on safety.

While no single fire safety option can guarantee total fire prevention, it is significant to take into consideration both the pros and cons of your chosen solution to make a balanced, informed decision. With fire curtains, it’s evident that their benefits are considerable, but the limitations must be thoroughly addressed to ensure optimal functionality.

Warehouse Roller Shutters

What are Fire Shutters?

Fire shutters are slatted steel roller shutters designed to compartmentalise buildings and prevent the spread of fire and smoke. Like fire curtains, fire shutters are used in active fire protection systems, meaning they automatically open or close on the activation of a fire alarm. Although fire shutters provide a basic level of security, it is not possible to meet both fire resistance and security standards on a single shutter. Fire shutters are required to close automatically, whilst in current regulations automatic closing is not permitted for high security shutters.


The Pros of Fire-Rated Shutters

When considering robust fire safety measures, Fire Rated Shutters undeniably carry a strong standing. These protectors are specifically designed to fulfil a host of roles, making them a worthwhile consideration for both residential and commercial properties.

Primarily, Fire Rated Shutters are unrivalled in their ability to resist and contain fires. Rated to withstand high temperatures for extended periods, these shutters can help limit the spread of fire, thereby protecting property and valuable assets.

Due to their sturdy construction, they also act as an effective physical barrier, offering a deterrent against vandalism and burglaries when fires are not a concern. This dual functionality makes them a pragmatic investment, marrying fire safety and security solutions in a singular package.

Furthermore, Fire Rated Shutters, unlike their curtain counterparts, are highly durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions and long periods of use with minimal maintenance. They are less likely to suffer from wear and tear, thereby extending their lifespan and proving to be a cost-effective solution in the long term.

From a legal standpoint, Fire Rated Shutters are designed to be compliant with strict building regulations. Opting for these installations ensure your adherence to safety laws and can create a more secure environment for occupants and visitors.

With their unyielding resilience, impressive fire resistance, and added security benefits, Fire Rated Shutters represent a solid choice in the realm of fire safety solutions. Despite this, as with any system, it’s vital to consider the potential drawbacks to make an informed decision, which we will explore next.


The Cons of Fire Rated Shutters

While Fire Rated Shutters present a robust line of defence in fire safety, it is essential to consider a few potential caveats associated with their use.

Firstly, the installation of Fire Rated Shutters, can be more complex, time-consuming, and expensive when compared to other fire safety solutions. It’s important to note that installations should only be carried out by professionals to ensure optimal functionality and compliance with safety regulations.

Secondly, aesthetics is a rather large consideration. Fire Rated Shutters, despite their numerous benefits, offer a certain industrial appearance that might not align with every architectural design or aesthetic preference.

Additionally, Fire Rated Shutters, due to their construction, often require more room – a factor that might not be feasible in every scenario. Smaller premises or those with design constraints might find this space requirement challenging.

Lastly, while these shutters are extremely durable, any mechanical or technical malfunction can completely compromise their functionality. Regular maintenance and check-ups are therefore crucial to ensure the longevity of these shutters and their operational readiness when needed.

Taking all these factors into account is necessary to make an informed decision on whether Fire Rated Shutters are the right fire safety solution for your specific needs and constraints.


Fire Curtains or Fire Shutters?

As we traverse the captivating journey of fire safety options, we’ve explored both Fire Curtains and Fire Rated Shutters in detail – criticisms and commendations alike. Nuanced in their construction, tailored in their application, both effective, yet notably different, fire safety solutions.

Fire curtains, brilliant in their subtlety and agility, offer a lightweight and flexible choice for fire containment – promisingly efficient and compliant with stringent regulations, they hold their ground as faithful protectors. However, their performance in high-intensity fire scenarios, and upkeep may cause one to consider alternatives.

This is where Fire Rated Shutters steal the limelight. Robust in their build and resilient in their resistance, these confront fire’s chaos head-on, providing a virtually impregnable barrier that offers additional security. They are a formidable adversary to rampant flames, shouldering both fire and weather with persistence.

However, one must keep in mind their industrial aesthetics, space necessity, and the essentialness of professional installation and regular maintenance. Whilst they may require a higher initial investment, their durability and multi-faceted functionality offer them an edge in the long-term return on investment.

At S and S Shutters, we encourage you to remember that fire safety is not a choice, but an intrinsic necessity. Exploring these options, while complex, contributes to creating safer work environment. 

If you need help in choosing the correct roller system or your property, contact our friendly team at [email protected], or give us a call on 0800 112 0083.

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