What Type of Smoke Curtain Do I Need?

Learn more about choosing the right smoke protection for your commercial space

Good fire and smoke control systems have many layers of protection, which often includes the use of smoke curtains: a simple and effective way to manage fire and smoke migration in the event of an emergency. They are more affordable than engineered ventilation systems and can be configured to fit and protect any space.

Choosing the correct smoke curtain size for your space will help keep your building and its occupants protected from the destructive forces of smoke and fire. From small custom-designed curtains to expansive perimeter curtains, let’s explore some of the most common areas to install a smoke curtain system and learn more about choosing the right smoke protection for your commercial space.


For elevator smoke control, choose smoke curtains to seal off elevator doors to prevent smoke from entering the elevator and to reduce smoke migration to other floors through elevator shafts. These curtains are typically activated by the closest smoke detector and when deployed, they roll down over the front of the elevator doors and framing and use a magnetic system to ensure a proper seal.

Always make sure you are selecting the correct width and height for your opening. An elevator smoke curtain will only function properly when the entire area of the elevator door and frame is covered.

Smoke Guard's smoke curtains deliver code-compliant smoke and draft opening protection without changing the design or decreasing the opening to elevator doors. If standard models don’t work with your existing or proposed elevator system, there are customizable options available.


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When dealing with the large, open space of a building’s atrium, controlling smoke and fire can present a few challenges. You want to prevent these types of spaces from creating a chimney effect where smoke is concerned, but you also want to maintain your design aesthetics and adhere to building codes.

Depending on the height and capacity of the atrium, there are a few types of smoke curtains available. You will often see different types of fire curtains and smoke curtains being used together to compartmentalize big spaces into smaller rooms for maximum protection.

Housed in the ceiling, vertical smoke curtains deploy downward to divide spaces within bigger rooms. This allows for a safer exit strategy for building occupants and an easier entry for fire and rescue teams.

Smoke Guard’s M2100 and M2500 vertical fire and smoke rated curtains are available in many dimensions and work well for atrium separation and large openings in walls. They can also be designed to create enclosures around escalators and stairwells.

A horizontally deploying fire curtain like the Smoke Guard M3000 can divide an atrium into smaller areas to limit the spread of smoke and fire. They may also be placed strategically between floors to better trap smoke in one part of the building. Because of their size, these curtains are highly recommended for high-rise buildings as well as other multi-level buildings that are three to four floors.


Museums are a lot like atriums when it comes to planning for adequate smoke control. These buildings are known for their large, open spaces and often have several special architectural features that will need to be considered. They also often hold large groups of people at once and contain valuable (and oftentimes priceless) items.

Just like atriums, museums benefit from the use of both horizontal and vertical fire and smoke curtains.

Perimeter control curtains also work well in museums. This type of fire curtain can shield staircases or escalators from smoke and flames or provide a reservoir for smoke on the upper floors of an atrium.

When it comes to smoke curtain installation, the Smoke Guard M4000 is an ideal choice for museums since it does not require corner support posts. When deployed, the M4000 can cover openings up to 15 feet drop and 220 feet length. These dimensions are highly adjustable, and the curtain’s panels can be joined at angles ranging from 30 to 150 degrees, which allows for custom installations.


Airports are unique buildings that require a flexible fire curtain system. You need to have the ability to adequately section off the source of smoke or fire while maintaining egress routes and securing important personnel.

For example, an air traffic control tower can’t be evacuated immediately because they are helping direct the safe travel of airplanes and passengers in the air. When you can segment parts of an airport using fire curtains, the prospect of tackling a smoke or fire emergency is much more manageable.

Choose curtain models that will provide the proper safety for the airport/concourse size and traffic flow. Perimeter curtains can address the issue of compartmentation around non-egress stairs and atrium spaces.

Elevator curtains are another type of smoke curtain designed with a specific use in mind. Shown above is an example of a deployed elevator curtain in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.

Warehouses, Aircraft Hangars and Manufacturing Facilities

Smoke can travel very quickly in more expansive spaces with high ceilings, which can lead to occupant injuries and losses in product, equipment and machinery. Automated water sprinklers that are triggered by smoke can further add to the damage, creating an even larger problem for building owners.

Highly versatile and easy to install, draft curtains are a great example of affordable and effective smoke control. These curtains redirect the ceiling jet through roof exhausts, slowing smoke movement and limiting the amount of smoke that can enter evacuation routes. They can also protect areas that contain hazardous chemicals.

Draft curtains are either semi-permanent or temporary additions to the ceiling and fixtures so take down and set up of the curtains is a fairly easy process if they need to be removed for repairs or renovations.

The Smoke Guard Draft Curtain is one example of a code-compliant draft curtain that can be manufactured in custom widths for ceiling spans of an unlimited width and variable drop length, making them a cost-effective fire and smoke protection strategy for industrial buildings.

Want to Learn More About Smoke Curtains?

SG Architectural Solutions’ skilled team of professionals have all the information you need about smoke curtains as well as other fire and smoke protection systems and services. Contact us today and let us help you protect your next project.