Whether you’re building or managing a warehouse, office or apartment building, safety equipment is always required to make your building code compliant, especially when it comes to fire safety and smoke prevention.
Smoke curtains are often an integral part of fire and smoke protection systems, helping with smoke control and protecting occupants from smoke inhalation. Like all other safety equipment, consistent smoke curtain preventative maintenance plays a role in keeping up to date with building code requirements.
So, what do you need to know about smoke curtains service, inspection and testing to keep your building and its occupants safe in an emergency? Let’s go over some basic guidelines for smoke curtains maintenance and how you can help your building maintain the highest level of fire safety and smoke control.
Servicing Smoke Curtains
While your smoke curtains need to be inspected at least once a year, you will also want to have them professionally serviced to guarantee your building is always in compliance with codes, standards and insurance requirements. Many professionals will offer several types of service packages, from annual servicing to routine checkups and regular maintenance.
Typically, a professional will check the security of your smoke curtains, all parts and seals, as well as all connections to other fire alarm and smoke control systems. They will also perform electrical checks that should include testing motor and battery capacity. Professional servicing could also help extend the life cycle of your smoke prevention system.
SG Architectural Specialties takes a more comprehensive approach to helping you keep your building safe and up to code. While they have an extensive line of code compliant fire and smoke protection systems, their commitment to safety goes well beyond their product offerings.
From offering initial consultations and pre-construction solutions to installation and on-going service after the project is done, SG Specialties’ team of experts are always up to date on the requirements for smoke and fire protection outlined in the California, Nevada and International Building Codes.
Testing Smoke Curtains
You never know when an emergency will occur that requires you to use your fire safety and smoke control equipment. That’s why you shouldn’t depend on an annual inspection alone to check your life-saving systems. The professionals at SG Specialties recommend smoke curtains be tested, at a minimum, once every six months to ensure they deploy correctly.
Regularly testing your smoke curtains is especially important because of their multiple uses in building design. They are often used as alternatives to traditional walls and sprinkler systems to create large, open spaces that normally wouldn’t be permitted by certain regulations. Therefore, it’s a good plan to check with the manufacturer and ask if you should be conducting smoke curtains preventative maintenance more often than twice a year.
It’s also a good idea to make note of any code and regulation changes that may go into effect before your next inspection. This is a great time to ensure you don’t need smoke curtain replacement or have other services performed to remain compliant.
There are things you can do to ensure your system stays compliant between inspections and professional servicing visits. Following are some tips for conducting regular checkups outside of your normal servicing schedule.
- Provide the maintenance staff of your building with training from the smoke curtain’s manufacturer.
- Assign someone to oversee regular checkups and make it an ongoing process.
- Keep an accurate log of all checks and note the activities performed.
- Operate the curtains monthly, and if the area is part of an escape route, operate it weekly if possible.
- Operate smoke curtains in conjunction with the entire smoke control system every three months.
- Look for obstructions that are in the deployment area of smoke curtains and remove them.
- Note any change in the layout of the building and how it will impact the performance of your smoke curtains.
Get Familiar With Standards and Codes for Inspections
It’s always important to be aware of the most up-to-date information, codes and requirements. Following are some of the most important authorities when it comes to fire safety and smoke prevention.
- National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA): Know if your curtains are NFPA approved by checking these criteria. NFPA is the premiere source for fire data analysis and research. Their 300 codes and standards establish fire safety criteria for building, processing, design, service and installation.
- International Code Council (ICC): The ICC develops model codes and standards for the design, build and compliance process. International Codes are used worldwide to help ensure structures are safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient.
- International Building Code (IBC): Focused on public health and safety, the IBC is the foundation of the Family of International Codes and deals specifically with the build environment. IBC works to provide safeguards from hazards by promoting the design and installation of innovative materials.
- Underwriters Laboratories (UL): UL is a global safety organization that performs safety testing and analysis of new technologies and sets safety, performance and sustainability standards for products.
- Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ): AHJ refers to the local organization, office or individual responsible for managing the permits, requirements, codes and standards that are specific to the city or county where your building is located. Smoke curtains will also be tested by the local AHJ for compliance.