A Brief History of Fire Safety and Protection Methods

Fire has played a crucial role in the development of every human civilization, but it also poses a significant threat to human life and property. Over the centuries, humans have learned valuable lessons about the importance of fire safety and protection. Today, we have sophisticated smoke curtains, fire curtains, and other active and passive smoke control systems that help us mitigate the dangers of fire.

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Fire has played a crucial role in the development of every human civilization, but it also poses a significant threat to human life and property. Over the centuries, humans have learned valuable lessons about the importance of fire safety and protection.

Today, we have sophisticated smoke curtains, fire curtains, and other active and passive smoke control systems that help us mitigate the dangers of fire.

Early Fire Safety Methods

The Corp of Vigiles was created in Rome following a catastrophic fire in 6 A.D. The Vigiles were a team of formerly enslaved people who were trained to fight fires and serve as watchmen over the city at night. Each battalion of Vigiles included anywhere from 500-1,000 men, carrying large hooks, pickaxes, ladders, ropes, bucket chains, and water pumps that could draw from local fountains, basins, and wells.

Between 1600 and 1899, the United States played a pivotal role in creating the foundation of today’s modern fire safety policies and equipment. Historic fires such as the Great Chicago and Peshtigo Fires of 1871 and the Great Fire of Boston in 1872 led to the creation of new fire and building codes. Key events and dates in the U.S. that helped usher in safety equipment, laws, and building codes include the development of the first American building code that prohibited the construction of wooden chimneys and thatched roofs in 1631 in Boston, the appointment of four Fire Wardens in 1648 in New Amsterdam (New York City), and the creation of the first volunteer fire department in 1736 in Philadelphia.

Modern Fire Safety and Protection

The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire was one of the deadliest workplace catastrophes in U.S. history. It led to the creation of NFPA’s Committee on Safety to Life, which became the foundation for the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. The Life Safety Code is the most widely used source for strategies to protect people based on building construction, protection, and occupancy features that minimize the effects of fire and related hazards for new and existing buildings.

The 20th century ushered in many new updates and inventions, including fire engines, alarm systems, modified sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, fire doors, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. All of these are important parts of modern fire and smoke control systems in residential buildings and commercial spaces.

Fire Curtains and Smoke Curtains

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Fire-rated curtains and smoke curtain systems are among the most important types of fire and smoke protection developed. The first fire curtain can be traced back to 1794 in London’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Today, there are many types of fire and smoke-rated curtain systems available to fit any space, including horizontal curtains, vertical curtains, perimeter curtains, elevator curtains and draft curtains.

Having the most up-to-date fire safety and protection will continue to be vital to businesses and homes. A modern smoke and fire control system that is designed for your space and needs is an extremely important part of your building’s infrastructure that can potentially save countless lives, assets, and valuables.

Today’s Fire and Smoke Curtains

Throughout recent decades, construction trends continue to evolve to feature more expansive atriums, open areas and floor plans that allow for more people to occupy rooms like collaborative workspaces. These features can create challenges for code compliance, especially regarding fire safety in a building.

Disasters like the MGM Grand Hotel fire in 1980 created an increased national awareness regarding the risks of smoke and fire emergencies in multi-story buildings. This generated a larger demand for more customizable solutions and innovative products for fire safety in buildings around the United States.

Today, there are many types of fire and smoke-rated curtain systems available to fit any space.

Fire Rated Curtains

  • Horizontal Curtains: Horizontal curtains are typically used to bisect atriums over two stories to compartmentalize smoke. They are ideal for multi-story buildings.

  • Vertical Curtains: Vertically deploying fire-rated and smoke-rated curtains are installed into ceilings. They are ideal for floor-by-floor protection in multi-level buildings that have large open areas like atriums, staircases or escalators.

  • Perimeter Curtains: Perimeter curtains are a type of vertical curtain that deploy from ceilings. They are ideal for shielding areas like staircases and escalators. They can also be used to create a reservoir for smoke on higher floors of atriums and other large spaces.

Smoke Curtains

  • Elevator Curtains: Elevator curtains provide elevator shaft smoke protection. They are easy to install above elevator openings and integrate seamlessly with fire-rated elevator doors to create tight-fitting smoke and draft control assemblies that are required by code.

  • Perimeter Curtains: Perimeter curtains secure the perimeter of a designated area. They are essential for protecting open spaces, such as non-egress open staircases and atriums from smoke migration.

Draft Curtains: Fixed draft curtains protect large spaces such as aircraft hangars, warehouses and manufacturing facilities from smoke hazards. Deployable draft curtains can be used for stairs, escalators and other interior applications.

Get Fire and Smoke Protection Designed for the Future

At SG Specialties, we offer modern solutions to meet your smoke and fire protection needs while maintaining your building’s aesthetic value. Our products work seamlessly with other fire and smoke control systems. Contact our team today to create a safer building.

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