How to Use Fire and Smoke Curtains

Fire and smoke curtains are essential parts of any establishment. Not only that they protect people from the harmful effects of the fire, but they also ensure that the fire will not reach almost all the areas of an establishment. They are necessary for the smoke control system of all buildings. So any staff, especially the maintenance staff, must know how to install and use these smoke and fire barriers. In this article, you will learn the proper ways of installation of fire and smoke curtains. You will also read how to use these fire barriers.

silhouette of a truck, water splashing from the firetruck, huge fire


Maintenance staff must undergo training on how to install fire barriers. Knowing this is important because incorrect installation of fire and smoke barriers can affect their functionality, and they may not serve their purpose.

You can install fire and smoke curtains in many different areas. They can be placed in open spaces or even in places that lack walls. They are usually used in offices, schools, elevators, lobbies. Most especially, they install it in the escape routes of an establishment.

When installing fire and smoke curtains, you must:

  1. Treat the curtains, auxiliary rails, and headboxes with utmost care. You must be delicate in handling these items because improper handling may cause these units to malfunction.
  2. Ensure a person’s safety before installing the curtains. Make sure that the maintenance staff is using a harness and a lifeline. Use the proper personal protective equipment to avoid acquiring an injury.
  3. Do not install the fire and smoke curtains ahead of time. Check if all the construction in the building is done before installing the curtains. It is to ensure that the curtains will not be damaged from the site work.
  4. Ensure that the rollers are fully horizontal so that the curtain fabric will not move and change its placement.
  5. Before manufacture, you must measure the height of the area where you want to put your curtain so that the curtain has the correct length and width.
  6. Make sure to put fire-resistant materials as a stopper on the space above the curtain. Ducts placed over the curtains must be fire-resistant or secured with dampers to prolong fire resistance.
  7. Equipment control systems must have extra supplies in case of emergency.
  8. Make sure that there aren’t so many gaps when you put the fire and smoke curtains. Manufacturers provide specifications on the maximum gaps of these fire barriers.
  9. The curtain bottom bar that is used must be suitable for the ceiling where you install the curtain. Curtain bottom bars make contact with the floor as you deploy the fire and smoke curtains. They seal the building structure as tightly as possible, not allowing smoke to pass through. So, it is essential to use the appropriate kind of curtain bottom bar.
  10. Ensure that there’s no obstruction in the area where you want to install your fire and smoke curtains. These barriers can hinder the deployment of your curtains. It may affect the purpose of your fire barrier.


You can activate a fire or smoke curtain in many ways. They remain retracted unless someone activates an alarm, a smoke sensor detects smoke or fire, or activated through a manual switch. Once triggered or switched on, fire and smoke curtains automatically descend into their operational location.

There are different styles of fire and smoke curtains, and their uses vary depending on their design. Regardless of the style, each of the curtains has the same way of operation.

Different Curtain Styles

  • Elevator Smoke Curtains– they are used to block smoke from going in and out of the elevator doors. Since elevator shafts pull the air upwards to the roof of the building, this may cause the spread of the fire to other areas of the establishment.
  • Draft Curtains– they are usually installed in manufacturing areas and warehouses. Buildings with open facilities and high ceilings should use this type of curtain. This curtain splits up airflow along the ceiling of a building. When using this, always remember to put it near an exhaust vent so that the travel of the smoke will slow down and be pushed outwards.
  • Vertical Smoke Curtains– they are used to close and block the openings from doorways to large atriums. These curtains are installed on the ceiling above the opening. Once deployed, they divide the areas of the building into smaller spaces and hold in the smoke in individual rooms. It helps people to evacuate easily and firefighters to enter the building quickly.
  • Perimeter Curtains– these curtains are ideal for escalators and open staircases. Perimeter curtains help slow the movement of the smoke and block an independent parameter.