Well known for their minimal footprint, smoke curtains are typically hidden above openings, so they do not interfere with a building’s aesthetics. They remain retracted in their hidden housings until they are activated by an alarm, a detector signal or a manual switch. Once triggered, they are designed to descend into their operational position.
Smoke curtains are a highly effective way to protect your building and its occupants from smoke inhalation and heat damage. They can be easily installed in almost any area and are suitable for virtually all types of architecture.
Commonly used in places like schools, offices, retail premises, hospitals, residential buildings, universities, airports and hotels, smoke curtains are now an accepted opening protective solution for building code requirements for many of these buildings. That is why it is important to choose the right smoke curtains and understand the installation process.
Reviewing the smoke curtain installation process is a good way to see how easy they are to install and the considerable level of flexibility they offer when it comes to designing and protecting a building.
When Is Installation Scheduled?
The important things to know about smoke curtain installation is understanding where the install occurs within the entire building process.
While timing may vary slightly depending on the type of smoke curtain being used, installation usually occurs when approximately 75-80% of the project is complete. More specifically, things like the elevator, framing, drywall and electrical work should be complete or near completion before smoke curtain installation begins.
Experienced installers like those at SG Specialties will have a solid understanding of sequencing, scheduling and the lead times they will need to quickly and successfully install a smoke curtain. These installers also understand the dynamics of work areas and the amount of space required for installation.
Typical Types of Installation
The installation process will vary depending on the type of smoke curtain being used. Installation most often occurs in phases with a team of 2-4 installers that are working through each part of the process as a team.
As you will see below, timing is an important part of the planning process. Let’s take a look at the basic process for the more common types of smoke curtain installation.
Elevator Smoke Curtains
Installation for elevator smoke curtains like the Smoke Guard M200, M400 or M600 elevator smoke curtains begins once the elevator installation team has installed the elevator cars and hoistway shaft. Then, the smoke curtain housing and auxiliary rails, if required, can be installed.
Depending on the progress of the electrical work, the actual smoke screens can be installed. If the electrical components are not complete, the team will wait and return to install the screen.
Vertical and Perimeter Smoke Curtains
For larger smoke curtains like the Smoke Guard M2100 vertical curtain or the M4000 perimeter curtains, installation teams will enter the project a little earlier in the timeline, when approximately 50-60% of the project is complete. This is because other trades often need to build around these types of curtains.
For curtains that require larger openings in the ceilings, soffits will need to be built around the smoke curtain system or depending on the style of the architecture (like industrial or modern buildings), the system can be left exposed.
Retrofitting Older Buildings
Sometimes referred to as tenant improvement (TI) work, retrofitting an older building is a much faster process because most of the structure is already built and finished. While demolition work is sometimes required to fit a system into the existing structure, the project can be completed in as little as a few days for an elevator opening or several weeks to install complex perimeter and horizontal systems.
In-Depth Look – Installing a Perimeter Curtain
Below is a quick review of the entire installation process for a Smoke Guard M4000 curtain. This process will be relatively the same for all large curtains.
- Review the scope of installation. The team looks at opening sizes, backing and field dimensions. This is also when it is important to speak to the other trades and get an understanding of their timeline and process.
- Begin production. Curtains materials take about ~10 weeks to produce.
- Schedule the installation. Installation scheduling will occur once the curtain has been manufactured and the other trades have completed their work.
- Coordinate delivery and installation. Determine where the system will be staged at the job site (ample space is needed).
- Lay out equipment. Take inventory of the system’s components and organize them.
- Set dimensions. A laser is used to transfer layout dimensions on the floor to the mounting surface.
- Installation begins in this order:
- Head boxes
- Drive systems
- Mount the controllers. Once the controllers are mounted, electricians can come in and complete their designated work.
- Setting bottom and top pans. Assemble and set bottom pans and connect top pan to bottom pans.
- Attach curtains. Attach curtains to top and bottom pans. At this point, the curtains will be operational and ready for testing.
- Testing begins. Once the building has permanent power and the alarm system is online, testing will start.
- Finish material is applied. If a finish material is needed (like an aluminum/stainless finish), it can now be added.
- Final testing is completed.
What Is Needed After Installation?
Once smoke curtains have been installed, it is important that they are regularly serviced and maintained. Smoke curtains need to be inspected every six months and tested with the fire alarm system annually. Most manufacturers and installers of fire and smoke curtains offer service and maintenance packages.
Protect Your Building and Its Occupants
As you can see, implementing smoke curtains into your fire safety plan is a quick and easy process that will help reduce the risk of building damage and increase the level of safety for your occupants.
SG Architectural Specialties’ skilled team of experts 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.