Developing a fire strategy

orange flames

It is essential that, for any commercially functioning buildings it uses, your company has a fire strategy. This is a general plan which cites best practice for ensuring the building occupants’ safety from fire, should a fire indeed break out. However, the “what” of fire safety best practices is only one component of the fire strategy, which also needs to specify “how” you will pursue those practices. This “how” will be covered by your use of the right fire safety products.

Exactly which such products your business should use will depend on the nature and layout of the building. The fire safety equipment and products from which you can choose include fire extinguishers, fire alarms and fire shutters. At K & D Systems, the available range of fire safety products includes fire curtains. If you are unsure what exactly constitutes an automatic fire curtain, this article is aimed at clearing confusion and explaining benefits of this particular type of product.

Who are K & D Systems?

The UK-based company K & D Systems is otherwise known as K & D Fire & Smoke Protection Systems or K & D Systems – The Fire Curtains & Smoke Curtains Specialists. The company is thoroughly experienced in manufacturing and fitting a range of fire safety products, including fire curtains, smoke curtains and fire shutters, for leading UK businesses from various sectors.

K & D Systems is largely based in the Tyne and Wear city of Sunderland, where the firm has its main office and a plant where all of its manufacturing takes place. However, the company also has offices in the UK cities of Newcastle, London, Birmingham and Edinburgh – and, indeed, offers its services everywhere throughout the UK and Ireland.

Even despite this broad coverage area, K & D Systems continues to install products of high quality and produce them over a 3-day turnaround time, subject to particular restrictions. The high quality of the company’s service can be strongly attributed to various factors, including the firm’s continual investment in research and development and more than 30 years of fitting experience. Furthermore, all of K & D’s fire curtains are both independently tested and fully certified.

What is a fire curtain?

The term “fire curtain” has often been used in this article, perhaps to your frequent confusion. After all, while the term might look simple and to-the-point on the surface, it can often be wrapped in technical specifications and terminology with the potential to easily bewilder. However, one purpose of this article is to strip away much of the typically confusing language to leave a definition of fire curtain – and, later in the piece, one of “automatic fire curtain” – that is easy to understand.

A fire curtain can be succinctly described as a curtain that, when in operation, descends from the ceiling as a manner of blocking an opening and, therefore, the spread of fire and smoke. With this fire curtain falling into place, fire and smoke could be left to spread between two areas. Potential adverse consequences of leaving this spreading unhindered go without saying.

This helps to explain why, in particularly large buildings, multiple fire curtains are provided as a means of “compartmentalisation”. This is where, as the fire curtains fall, they separate the building into several “fire compartments” meant to foster passive fire protection.

With these sections trapping and containing the fire, the building’s occupants could be given more time to escape through routes in a property which are both now better protected. In this way, the fire curtains can also help to buy more time for fire-fighting services to turn up on the scene before the structure is extensively damaged or lives are lost.

In this context, the word “curtain” can mislead; it may be more helpful to think of a fire curtain as a type of roller shutter. Indeed, like a metal roller shutter, it is usually left rolled up in a “top box”, from which the sheeting will unroll as it descends vertically. A fire curtain does, however, differ in comprising not metal, but instead a woven fibreglass material that is significantly more flexible.

Due to the compact form of fire curtains, they can be fitted even in the limited space of lobbies, hatches and stairwells without significantly sacrificing the overall aesthetic. In fact, once a fire curtain has been installed into the recess of a wall or ceiling, only a thin slit could betray any immediate visual evidence that the fire curtain has been fitted in the space.

What makes a fire curtain “automatic”?

Fire curtains are available in several types. These include static fire curtains. Otherwise known as fixed fire curtains, these are so-called as they are secured permanently into place. Such open spaces as warehouses and lofts are often chosen as locations for static fire curtains.

A manual fire curtain is referred to as such because it is rolled up and un-rolled as necessary through manual operation. The Twin Skin 2.0 Manual Fire and Smoke Curtain available from K & D Systems is one example of such a fire curtain. There is a key point of differentiation here with what is known as the automatic fire curtain. How would a fire curtain come into effect automatically?

This can happen if the curtain is linked to the fire alarm system, as this would enable the curtain to automatically descend when a fire is sensed in the building. Indeed, the majority of non-static fire curtains can be categorised as automatic.

K & D Systems offers a Twin Skin automatic fire curtain which can use as many as two alarm inputs for initiating closing. You can take these inputs from sources including your local fire alarm panel, smoke detectors or a volt-free contact.

Following the alarm input, the curtain can close itself immediately as local warning systems are set off. Alternatively, you could opt for the curtain to delay its closure until a given time period, or partially close and then halt for a specific period of time before entirely shutting.

When would you legally need a fire curtain?

In answering this question, we should refer back to your company’s need for a fire strategy, as outlined at the start of this article. This necessity is legally enshrined by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. You should, however, be careful not to confuse a fire strategy with a fire assessment. The latter is conducted by local housing authorities in adherence to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. Therefore, in what specific situations would a fire strategy be legally needed?

Your business would need a fire strategy if the company works in any complex build or commercially functioning building. While the fire strategy need only be a general plan, it should touch on the best practices for implementing fire safety in the building in case a fire breaks out there. Still, you might wonder what constitutes a “complex” building.

This term could be used for builds featuring distinct but interconnected building segments and facilities. Good examples of complex buildings for which a fire strategy would be applicable include hotels, shopping centres and hospitals, all of which could benefit from the fitting of fire curtains.

You could take account of automatic fire curtains when drawing up a document report detailing the building’s strategy. In this report, include not only detailed and to-scale evacuation drawings but also clear information about the appropriate evacuation routes in the building. As use of these routes could be eased by the building’s inclusion of fire safety features, you should also mention those and their specifications – as well as, possibly, how those features should be used.

The last of those subjects would only warrant mention if those fire safety features do not deploy automatically. It would be a different situation in the case of automatic fire curtains, and this hints at the convenient simplicity of their use. Nonetheless, we would warn against any nonchalance in your preparation and maintenance of the fire strategy.

This is not only because your local fire and rescue authority will examine and comment upon your fire strategy. It is also due to the 2014 introduction of British Standards requiring all fire curtains to be installed with a gravity fail-safe system. When fitted in place, this system will preserve the curtain’s ability to descend – and, thus, potentially spare both structural damage and lives – even should mains power or battery-provided backup power fail or be otherwise absent.

Fortunately, K & D Systems have the expertise to install a gravity fail-safe system alongside an automatic fire curtain, allowing your business to benefit from a comprehensive fire safety solution. K & D Systems also rigorously tests and certifies each automatic fire curtain that it provides. The testing and certification are intended to indicate that, for a specific minimum length of time, the curtain will be preserved in its integrity and remain working even in extremely fiery conditions.

What practical purposes could an automatic fire curtain serve for you?

For all that can be said in favour of fire curtains, you have to remember that your main aim should be to comprehensively tighten fire safety in the building in a legally sound manner. In this light, the installation of fire curtains would simply be a means to an end – or, more to the point, could be one of several means pointing to ultimately the same end, that of properly ensuring fire safety.

In other words, you should not be too quick to rule out the idea of fitting fire shutters. This, too, is a responsibility which K & D Systems can professionally handle on your behalf. This is before we bring up the subject of other fire safety measures, such as providing fire extinguishers and sprinklers. In which situations should your thoughts turn mainly to fire curtains, of all of these safety items?

This is not a straightforward question to answer, as it depends on the nature of the building as well as how effectively other solutions could be used – whether they would require you to tinker with the building’s existing design or leave it intact.

However, an automatic fire curtain can serve especially well in an open plan setting, which is becoming increasingly common in new buildings. In an open plan layout, you could readily appreciate a measure that ensures fire safety without being obtrusive. The considerable flexibility of automatic fire curtains enables them to be tucked away into the ceiling when not required.

Fire shutters, meanwhile, can provide “compartmentalisation” like fire curtains, albeit more robustly. As for fire extinguishers and sprinklers, keep in mind that, while they may suffice for particular buildings, retrofitting them into an existing building could prove beyond practical possibility.

How should your automatic fire curtain be maintained?

Once an automatic fire curtain is fitted in your company’s building, it would be your responsibility – as the building occupier – to ensure that this curtain stays fully operational. Otherwise, you could be leaving the building’s occupants perilously vulnerable to risks of fire. Furthermore, you would be violating fire regulations and insurance requirements pertaining to your building.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 includes recommendations for how to maintain fire curtains, and compels the building occupier to do so through following the manufacturers’ instructions. Under BS 8524-2, the Order outlines recommendations for fire curtain servicing; keep in mind that infringing these terms could result in you facing prosecution.

Fortunately, for each automatic fire curtain that K & D Systems provides and fits, the Sunderland-based company agrees on a maintenance programme which includes guaranteed backup and support as well as online telephone advice and support.

Fire safety in timber buildings

burning wood

It’s vitally important that your home or business has an adequate fire safety plan to help combat the risks that are posed in the event of a fire. Although most businesses are legally required to possess a thought-out and certified fire safety plan and various fire exits and extinguishers, fire safety in the home can often be neglected.

In the UK, the majority of our homes are built with bricks and stone, simply because this is what the rainy weather permits, providing ample insulation and water tightness in the face of that British weather. However, across the pond, in the likes of the USA as well as throughout Europe, many homes and buildings are built using timber.

This can make them more susceptible to the threat of fires and their rapid spread, with a large fire threatening the whole structural integrity of a building and spreading at a much faster rate.

This guide is designed to advise you on how to ensure that your timber buildings are meeting health and safety guidelines and are safeguarded against the potential threat of any fires that could occur, making these timber buildings safer to use, whether they form your home or workplace.

What is fire safety?

Fire safety seems like an obvious and important area of ensuring that your employees and family are safe, but many people neglect the vital rules of keeping their homes safe.

Fire safety effectively refers to the measures you take in your home or workplace to ensure that the chances of a fire occurring are reduced to a minimum – and that, in the event of a fire, the chance of the fire rapidly spreading is reduced as much as possible. This also means developing planned and tested fire escape routes as well as kitting out your home or workplace with extinguishers and other helpful aids.

Many different companies are throwing a lot of funding into the research and development surrounding fire safety products, and no example situations highlight this more than the research and innovation behind the Sunderland firm K & D Systems.

K & D Systems offer a selection of products, from smoke and fire curtains that suffocate the fire and prevent it from spreading to further safeguarding solutions surrounding apartments and timber buildings. Continue reading below to find out more about K & D Systems and their product range, as well as how they took their place among the leading names and fire curtain specialists across the UK.

Who are K & D Systems?

K & D Systems are experts in fire safety and fire prevention products, with over 30 years’ experience of working in the industry and constantly adapting to innovations and new technologies that will ultimately save lives in our workplaces and homes.

The company is based in the North East of England, with all of their design, production and manufacturing carried out from their Sunderland headquarters. This situation has enabled K & D Systems to safeguard and work with some of the country’s largest establishments.

K & D Systems have worked with the likes of Wembley Arena, the Derby-based Westfield Shopping centre, and major international airports in Birmingham and Gatwick to install cost-effective fire safety solutions. These have included fire and smoke curtains and shutters, as well as fire safety window and wall systems that are designed to counter the threat of a growing fire.

With a constant eye on innovation and bespoke design, K & D Systems offer excellent products and customer service that have allowed them to harvest strong and trusted relationships with their clients as well as deliver products that are durable and fit for purpose – and, most importantly, save lives. All of their products are independently checked by fire services to ensure that they are fit for purpose when a fire does occur.

Fire safety in timber buildings

The parameters that need to be taken or considered when working with timber buildings are very different to the equivalent parameters pertaining to standard brick-and-stone buildings that are common throughout the UK. However, although our homes are often made of bricks and mortar, many of us possess sheds, conservatories and extensions or loft spaces that aren’t made from the same durable materials.

Although fires can often affect different materials indiscriminately, the rapid spread of a fire is drastically increased when it comes to timber buildings.

Timber buildings are perhaps most common in countries where hotter and drier climates are more consistent, and a cool house is preferred to an insulated one. Timber is also cheaper than stone and brick. Still, how do you effectively combat a timber building against a fire and ensure that all of the fire safety measures are included in the structure?

  • Compartmentalisation in timber buildings

One of the main methods of preventing the spread of fire in timber buildings is by working fire safety solutions into the complex structural integrity and architecture of the building.

Similarly to the way that K and D systems fire curtains help compartmentalise certain spaces and reduce the rapid spread of fire, timber buildings should be compartmentalised by using certain materials to deflect the fire and halt its advance. This can be done by delivering certain insulation, thermal and integral systems room-to-room to ensure that the fire isn’t given the chance to spread further.

This process involves designing a timber building that is built with layered systems from the ground up, using different timber materials to stifle the growth of the fire. Architects in Sweden have proven that layered design from the floor up and room-to-room in timber structures helps to reduce the speed at which a fire can spread. These architects have advised that using a range of woods, from plywood to different veneers, can prove to be an effective fire safety solution.

The best means of ensuring that your timber buildings are adequately prepared in the face of a fire is by ensuring that they have been checked by a professional during the construction and design. Every building under construction now requires a fire safety assessment called a SHEVS assessment.

K & D Systems offer their services and provide advice on how their fire safety solutions, fire and smoke curtains and shutters and doors can provide adequate fire safety solutions. K & D Systems work with engineers and architects to ensure that buildings are erected with safety and evacuation in mind.

What types of products can help you with fire safety?

There are many different products available from K & D Systems that can help your business in the event of a fire. With many years of experience in the industry and a thorough understanding of how a fire can spread, K & D provide homes and businesses with smoke and fire curtains, barriers and shutters and doors that can help to prevent the spread of a fire. Here are just a few of the products available at K & D Systems…

  • Fire and smoke curtains

The fire and smoke curtains available from K & D Systems can be quickly manufactured and installed with as little hassle or disruption as possible. K & D manufacture bespoke fire curtains that are available at a width of any length and a maximum lowering drop of 8 metres to help reduce the spread of fire.

The durable and weighted materials from which the curtains are made help to compartmentalise open plan buildings and stop a fire from spreading by starving the flame of oxygen. These materials also reduce the chances of harmful chemical smoke spreading and suffocating the people inside the building.

A fire curtain can provide between 2 and 4 hours to help you to evacuate your building in time. The curtain can also help ensure that the fire brigade has the easiest job possible in extinguishing the flames with as little damage to the building as possible.

  • Fire rated windows and systems

K & D Systems also provide fireproof partition walls and door systems that serve as a more permanent solution in combatting those flames. Where a fire curtain can be lowered, a portioning wall can be a permanent fixture in your home or office space, offering solutions to put your mind at rest in the event of a fire.

Our windows, walls and door systems are fitted with fireproof glass as well as insulated wall space fitted with special boats and aluminium that can provide up to 90 minutes of thermal protection.

Is threat of fire a real problem in the UK?

Unlike in other countries, there often isn’t the threat of widespread fire issues that can occur in hotter countries. We’re constantly seeing forest fires ravaging European countryside and hillside neighbourhoods in the USA, but the wetter climates in the UK don’t really allow for this to happen.

The threat of fire in the UK is mostly penned down to neglect or arson. The neglect can be as minimal as failing to turn off electrical appliances when you’re not using them or choosing to ignore the potential signs of fire hazards in your home or workplace.

Should I complete a home or office risk assessment?

Completing a fire risk assessment in your home or office space can be your first step to ensuring that you are following all the necessary procedures to make sure your employees and family are safe should a fire start. These measures can be as simple as conducting regular fire drills to ensure that everyone is familiar with the fire escape route as well as being educated on the threat of fire and how to reduce its spread to a minimum.

You could ensure that your building’s doors are closed at night to prevent the circulation of smoke, verify that you have working fire alarms, and also turn off any electrical appliances when they are out of use.

K & D systems are dedicated to ensuring that your homes and businesses are adequately fireproofed and you’re constantly kept in the loop surrounding the changing innovations within the industry. We can also repair your fire safety systems as quickly as possible.

With a combined 100 years of experience across the fire safety industry, research and development, and engineering, our Sunderland-based team possess valuable insights into the way buildings are constructed, the pre-empted solutions that we need to supply, and how our products can benefit a business.

Don’t look past K & D Systems as your fire curtain manufacturing and installation specialists. Give us a call to begin the start of a long and trusted professional customer relationship.

Explained: Fire curtain installation

firefighters fighting fire

K & D Systems offer invaluable solutions to help businesses, homeowners and shopping centres as well as a wide range of establishments to deal with their fire safety concerns. K & D provides fire safety solutions in the form of fire and smoke curtains, fireproof windows, and partition walls and ceilings.

Their fire curtains provide up to 4 hours of protection against the spread of flames and the circulation of smoke, freeing up time for people to evacuate the building and for the fire services to arrive and put out the flames. This guide will inform you about the ins and outs of the processes involved with regard to the manufacture of fire curtains and the installation process involved, which will depend on your establishment.

Once we’ve manufactured your bespoke fire curtain, we get them independently checked by fire services. We then send one of our installation experts out on the job to quickly and efficiently install your fire curtain in a way that will allow you to get the most benefit from your curtain.

Continue reading this guide to find out more about the business behind the innovative quality curtain as well as learn more about how a fire curtain works. You can also learn about its manufacturing and installation, as well as the reasons you should purchase a fire curtain for your business, home or establishment.

Who are K & D Systems?

K & D Systems possess over 30 years’ experience of working within the fire safety industry and are considered to be the fire safety specialists throughout the UK and Ireland. Their client base is large and diverse, with clients ranging from the Wembley Arena in London to the Westfield shopping centre in Derby as well as busy, safety-orientated international airports in Birmingham and Gatwick.

Their diverse client base, built on strong and continuous relationships, shows K & D Systems to be a trusted member of the fire safety industry, with the professional backing of fire services responsible for independently testing their products to ensure their safety of use.

From their base in Sunderland, where their manufacturing centre is located, K & D Systems provide transparent information surrounding the expert design, manufacturing and installation of their fire curtains, providing durable and discrete curtains as well as shutters and flame-retardant doors.

The slim and lightweight curtains produced by K & D Systems provide the smallest carbon footprint and fewest emissions possible; they also allow the installation experts at K & D to create as little disruption and cost to your business as possible during the installation period.

It’s not just in fire curtains and the materials they comprise where K & D excel; they are also suitably qualified and experienced to repair the motors and alarm systems that are vital to the correct and versatile function of your new or ageing fire curtain. K & D pride themselves on the products that they create and are always turning to research and development as a means to improve their products and make your businesses a safer place to be in the event of a fire.

What is a fire curtain?

As elements of fire safety, fire curtains are reasonably misunderstood to business owners and the general layman but are perhaps the best products on the market for preventing fires and the smoke that rises from them from circulating throughout your building. A fire curtain is made from durable and lightweight materials to allow for discreet storage when out of use and can be automatically descended via an alarm system that is linked to your smoke alarm system.

The purpose of a fire alarm is to form a partition between two large areas to help slow down the rapid spread of a fire and the smoke that it releases. Similarly to how we’re taught to close doors within our home to prevent the spread of fire in our homes, a fire curtain is a more technical, successful version of this.

A fire curtain can provide between 2 and 4 hours of delay time or protection against the threat of fire, helping to block fire escape routes so that employees or people can be evacuated safely. Then, the fire services can arrive and resolve the issue while as little disruption as possible has occurred.

The fire curtains available at K & D Systems are available to be manufactured and installed at any width with, a maximum decline drop of 8 metres. This diversification in bespoke manufacturing and fire curtain installation means that K & D can cater for a wide range of establishments and structural shapes.

5 steps of fire curtain installation and manufacturing

By now, you may want to know more about the process that K & D Systems takes when planning, offering quotes, designing, manufacturing and installing the fire curtains that you have ordered from us. This part of the guide is designed to give you invaluable insight into the design process and how we go from your initial call to providing an intrinsic fire safety system for your business, residential building or establishment.

Continue reading below to look into the steps involved in producing your fire safety products.

  1. Give us a call and acquire a quote

This will be your first point of contact with K & D Systems, so we want you to feel assured and confident in our ability to provide you with adequate fire safety solutions at a fair price. We won’t bore you with technical jargon surrounding the fire curtains or their composition, but will offer you friendly and efficient customer service where your needs are understood and the plans for your bespoke products are made quickly.

We always aim to get the final quote back to you within 24 hours, meaning that our products can get to work in saving lives as quickly as possible. This is the point when you discuss how many fire curtains you may need, their size, your current fire safety arrangements and the nature of your business.

  1. We design and manufacture your products

K & D Systems are based in the North East of England in Sunderland, but their products are available to the whole country, with products across the UK and Ireland. Our headquarters have been in Sunderland for over 30 years, so we feel safe in calling ourselves fire safety or fire curtain experts.

One of our designers will take your measurements and the plans of your quote and provide a highly technical design brief for our manufacturing technicians to create your curtains quickly and with quality. Your blinds will be made up of durable materials to help combat the fire. The curtains will also come with a series of hidden motors and electrics to help operate the alarm sensors that allow for the release and decline of the blinds.

  1. Delivery and Installation

Once your products have been manufactured and independently checked by Chiltern fire service, it means that we can now distribute your fire safety curtains and arrive at your premises to install them. Usually, we aim for roughly a 3-day turnaround to produce your curtains, but the time for installation can take longer.

We arrive on the job with all of the tools and equipment needed to quickly and efficiently fit your fire safety curtain as well as complete any electrical and sensor work in relation to the alarm systems and the motor that allows the fire curtain to drop.

Once the curtain has been installed, we will offer any advice surrounding your fire safety procedure and be on our way. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re looking for any further advice concerning the output or repair of your curtain.

What types of fire curtains are available and where are they most suited to?

K & D Systems offer numerous different fire curtains that can have wholesale benefits for your fire safety procedure, the evacuation of your employees and the structural integrity of a building in the event of a fire. We cater to an extensive range of buildings and establishments, and our client base shows that.

Whether you run a commercial residence, a large open plan building, a hospital or a school, our fire safety curtains are perfect for isolating specific areas from the flames and creating a fire barrier for up to 4 hours.

K & D systems have recently released a new innovation called the Twin Skin curtain. This is an un-insulated fire curtain that can prevent the spread of fire for up to two hours. Working in a similar fashion to our other products, the Twin Skin curtain will provide that much-needed period to allow the fire brigade to arrive and for you to safely evacuate your staff or residents.

You can always guarantee that, when you become a client of K & D Systems, you can expect a dedicated personal service that’s on hand when you need us. This service involves quick call out for any repairs or defects as well as advice surrounding fire safety over the phone. We value our customers and their safety.

Additionally, our manufacturing team are able to design fire curtains up to any width – whatever the structure of your building, we can accommodate you. Our fire curtains possess a maximum dropdown of 8 metres, which is usually suitable for most commercial buildings. Why not send us your measurements and requirements today and see how we can help you out?

Why do I need a fire curtain?

Fire curtains are vital for helping to reduce the risk of a spreading fire in your home, business or establishment. Often, modern buildings are built with open plan, accessible spaces – meaning that, if a fire does occur, there remains plenty of space and oxygen for the fire to spread.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t make the most of your open plan spaces. Fire curtains provide a discreet, storable curtain that can be activated and lowered when a fire occurs, effectively partitioning the room into two or three spaces depending on how many curtains you have.

This will reduce the opportunity for the fire to grow and spread, as the curtain will cut out the oxygen supply to the flame as well as reduce the opportunity for toxic fumes to circulate. A fire curtain will also provide time to evacuate employees and necessary time for the fire brigade to expertly tackle the fire.

K & D Systems are dedicated to sustaining their mantle as the number one fire safety curtain experts in their country by constantly delivering lifesaving fire solutions. This expertise and 30 years of experience is noticeable from their initial quotation service all the way through to their design and manufacturing – and, most importantly, the effective and hassle-free installation service of the fire curtains.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the fire safety products that K & D manufacture and feel like your business or establish could benefit from our products, then don’t hesitate to get in touch or visit us online to find out more.

The ins and outs of fire safety in apartments

firefighter

K & D Systems have over 30 years of experience in providing solutions for fire safety in apartments and efficiently installing fire and smoke curtains in apartment buildings. A fire curtain can provide you with up to 4 hours of fire protection by reducing the flames’ exposure to oxygen and preventing harmful toxic chemicals and smoke from circulating.

When it comes to fire safety, it’s vitally important that you ensure your apartment or home is suitably equipped to deal with potential fires. You also need to ensure that your tenants are aware of the various fire drills and safety routines that are in place throughout the building.

There are various precautions that you can take in your home to reduce the chances of a fire occurring, from switching off all electric appliances before you leave the house, to closing all doors so that the spread time of a fire is reduced.

K & D Systems offer a number of fire safety solutions, including the installation of fire curtains and shutters in apartment blocks and homes across the UK and Ireland. The products available from K & D systems can go a long way in helping you to remain safe in your home and ensure that those life-or-death fire situations can be dealt with quickly and effectively without any tragic circumstances occurring.

Who are K & D Systems?

K & D Systems have over 30 years’ solid experience of working in the fire safety industry, developing products and safety devices to help in the event of a fire. Although these products won’t prevent the inevitable spread of an apartment fire, they will certainly do a good job in helping to slow down the growth of the fire, allowing any residents or tenants to escape to safety with time to spare.

Based in the North East of England in Sunderland, K & D systems have adapted their output and expertise across 30 years of technological change and fire safety improvements. Hence, they now work with large companies to improve their fire safety solutions and set out important fire safety plans.

K & D Systems have installed fire prevention curtains and shutters in the likes of Wembley Arena and Birmingham and Gatwick airports as well as the Westfield shopping centre in Derby. Their 30 years of experience, coupled with the businesses and responsibility with which they have been trusted, shows just how much of a qualified and trusted company K & D Systems are.

Although K & D are based in Sunderland, they can offer their services all the way across the United Kingdom and Ireland. They are also dedicated to bringing the latest smoke and fire safety curtains and shutters to businesses and tenants across the country.

Their innovative and meticulous approach to fire safety has led them to build a reputation enabling them to become the leading name in fire safety technologies throughout the UK. Read on below to find out more about some of the products and services that K & D offer, as well as benefits for your apartment, business or residence.

What is fire safety?

Simply put, fire safety refers to the methods, technologies and plans that are put in place to deal with the threat of a fire. Fire safety can include anything from creating detailed plans and escape routes for your business, conducting risk assessments to ensure that all exits are accessible in the event of a fire, and making sure that there are adequate fire extinguishers throughout your building.

K & D Systems are experts in fire safety and provide efficient installation of smoke and fire curtains, fire shutters and fire rated windows. For most of us, the extent of our fire safety knowledge stretches to keeping low because smoke rises and closing any doors to prevent the rapid spread of the impending inferno.

K & D Systems provide technical and informative audits and plans for your business and provide you with all of the necessary information, allowing you to feel safe in the knowledge that you’re prepared for a fire if it does occur.

Every building under construction must undergo a SHEVS assessment which reviews the building for any potential fire hazards and provides advice for adaptation. These tests look into the smoke, heating and ventilation systems throughout the buildings and offer suggestions for improvement. You’ll most likely be familiar with fire doors and fire extinguishers that you’ve seen dotted around your building, but you’ll be unaware of the facts behind these ‘preventable methods’.

Extinguishers and fire doors offer minimal safety and short-term solutions to a fire. Fire doors will not protect you from the spread of smoke throughout your building, which is the main source of fatalities when a fire occurs. If you’re a business looking to improve the fire safety in your office or factory, or you’re a construction firm seeking some expert fire safety solutions, then contact K & D Systems for a fire safety review as well as the installation of fire and smoke curtains.

5 methods of improving fire safety in your apartments

When you’ve experienced a fire in your business or apartment, you’re always lucky to get out alive and without injury. Fire rarely touches our lives without causing some sort of damage or stress. Until you’ve experienced the way exposure to fire can destroy our lives, you might not take your fire safety seriously.

This section of our fire safety guide is designed to give you invaluable tips into how to safeguard your apartment against fires – or, at least, reduce the chances of fire spreading and causing more damage than necessary.

  • Always ensure that your doors are closed

Closed doors can provide you with invaluable time to escape a fire and reduce the rapid spread of an inferno throughout your apartment. You may be wondering just how a wooden door can help you out, but it’s simple, really…

Fires need oxygen to grow, and although a door won’t wholly prevent the spread of a house fire, it can reduce the spread of flames and smoke throughout your building also while reducing the oxygen available for the fire to grow. A closed door could reduce the fire to a smoulder rather than a roaring one, which will provide you with valuable minutes to get yourself and your family to safety.

  • Always turn off your electrical appliances

How often do you leave the house and question whether you’ve turned off your hair straighteners, turned off the gas or left your fireplace roaring? It only takes one faulty plug and a rogue electrical spark to start a fire that could result in the destruction of your property.

Even if you’ve turned the appliance off at the switch, there remains a chance of the fuse overheating and causing a fire. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to remove any plugs and ensure that you wait for the likes of hair straighteners or other heated items to cool before you leave your home.

  • Look into getting a fire curtain or shutter fitted

Fire and smoke curtains are the latest fire safety products on the market and have proven to be lifesavers when it comes to apartment or business fires. Many of you may be unfamiliar with what a fire curtain actually is and how it works, but that’s okay, because we’re here to help you and explain the facts.

Fire and smoke curtains are triggered by an alarm system or smoke alarms and will close in the event of a fire. Similar to the effects of closing a door, a fire curtain can, for up to 2 hours, hold back the threat of a spreading fire by starving the flames of oxygen and creating a barrier to prevent the smoke from spreading.

K & D Systems are qualified and experienced in the installation of fire curtains and can provide all of the information that you require to gain an education in fire safety and your new fire safety curtain. Fire curtains have been shown to be lifesavers, so it’s no surprise that many business owners and tenants are choosing to opt for the safest fire safety measure possible and get a fire curtain installed.

When not in use, fire curtains can be stored discreetly and are made with lightweight materials capable of preventing the spread of fire for up to 4 hours, enabling your employees or tenants to get to safety without casualty or injury. Fire curtains are perfect for open-plan offices and apartments and act as temporary fire walls in the event of a fire. Therefore, these curtains can prevent the spread of the flame and smoke, which is often the main killer in the event of a fire.

  • Have fire-rated windows and door systems

If you’re an owner of an apartment block or responsible for the fire safety in an office space, it’s also a good idea to look into specialised partitioned walls and sliding doors to improve your fire procedures. These partitioned walls, sliding doors and glazed roofs are fitted with a selection of insulated aluminium fittings and coolants that help to reduce the spread of fire and are activated when a fire does occur.

These windows, doors and walls can provide fire prevention and reduction from both sides of the wall, making them extremely safe options for dealing with fires in your home or office space.

  • Always ensure that your smoke alarms work

Smoke alarms have demonstrably saved lives by alerting people to the threat of a fire while there’s enough time to escape. With smoke inhalation being the biggest killer when a fire occurs, it helps to be alerted as early as possible as a means of reducing the exposure to these toxic chemicals. Often, smoke can go undetected by people when they are asleep, and this situation can prove fatal for apartment tenants.

How can a smoke and fire curtain benefit your apartment?

A smoke or fire curtain can provide lifesaving benefits when it comes to a fire in your apartment. A fire and smoke curtain can be activated by your smoke alarms or a fire-activated system after the curtain has been installed into an apartment or open plan office space by K & D Systems.

Made from lightweight materials, a fire and smoke curtain can provide residents in apartments with up to four hours to escape in the event of a fire. The curtain can also allow ample time for the fire services to arrive and extinguish the flames and smoke before further damage or fatalities have the chance to occur.

A fire and smoke curtain provides a barrier against the spread and growth of smoke and flames by suffocating the fire from oxygen and isolating the fire to one space. K & D systems have over 30 years’ experience of providing fire safety solutions to businesses and apartments across the UK. These solutions have saved lives and prevented damage in apartments, offices and shopping centres.

A fire curtain is most useful in large, open plan internal spaces where fires could otherwise freely spread. A curtain effectively provides a temporary partition to stop the fire spreading, allowing tenants, employers or shoppers to escape safely and unharmed.

K & D Systems understand how to safeguard your apartment against the threat of fire. Qualified to fit safety curtains and conduct fire safety assessments throughout your building, K & D Systems offer services that you will not regret acquiring. They could make the difference between saving lives and tragedy.

How a fire curtain can help save your life

Fire exit sign

K & D systems provide businesses and apartments throughout the UK with a number of fire safety solutions, such as fire curtains, to help prevent the spread of flames and smoke. Our fire curtains can, for up to four hours, protect people from fire, creating enough time for them to escape and the fire services to arrive.

On the face of it, a fire curtain seems like an obvious piece of fire safety equipment, but many people are unfamiliar with the technicalities of a curtain and how exactly they help in the parameters of fire safety. Simply put, a fire curtain is a temporary wall that will descend from the ceiling to provide a blockage or obstacle partition in-between two areas when a fire occurs.

This guide will enable you to understand how a fire curtain can help save your life and prevent smoke and flames from spreading throughout your building or business. K & D Systems offer over 30 years of invaluable experience in dealing with fire in homes, businesses and large establishments and can provide wholesale fire safety solutions and advice to help safeguard your home or business against the potential threat of a disastrous fire.

Who are K & D Systems?

K & D Systems offer a plethora of innovative fire safety installation services and fire safety solutions across the UK and Ireland. Although their head offices are based in Sunderland in the North East of England, their services are stretched across the length and breadth of the country, with their fire solutions visible in the likes of Wembley Arena, Westfield shopping centre in Derby, and Birmingham and Gatwick airports as well as many other business buildings.

The calibre of K & D’s client base shows the trust that the company has won from these clients, as well as their confidence in how K and D Systems operate to ensure that their businesses and apartments are safeguarded and prepared in the event of a fire.

K & D Systems have a strong ethos centred around helping people and building strong relationships with their customers. Although you should never attempt to scrimp and save on your fire safety within your business or home, you can guarantee that K & D Systems offer fit-for-purpose fire safety technology at an affordable price for you, with as little disruption to your lives as possible.

Continue reading below to find out more invaluable information about how a fire curtain works and how it can benefit your life, family and business.

What is a fire curtain?

A fire curtain is a vital piece of technology for helping to ensure the safety of your tenants, employees and customers in the event of a fire. Made from a durable, lightweight material, a fire curtain is a device that is stored in your ceiling and can automatically descend from your ceiling in the event of a fire.

The purpose of the curtain is to form a partition in-between two spaces and reduce the chance of the fire and smoke spreading any further and causing further harm to people. Therefore, the curtain allows people to escape from a fire-stricken place quickly and efficiently without harm.

Because of the durable and lightweight material from which the fire curtains are made, it allows for quick and easy installation by K & D systems at a relatively low cost. The curtain is automatically dropped based on an alarm system that is intertwined with the smoke alarms.

Therefore, when the smoke alarms are triggered because of a fire, the curtain will drop and begin to work its magic. Give K & D Systems a call to discuss the potential in your apartment office, or building for the implementation of a fire curtain. We can consider the best area for a smoke alarm to be installed and how it can prevent the growth of a fire at the optimal level.

A fire curtain can prevent the spread and growth of a fire for up to four hours. Therefore, depending on the fire’s location, the curtain can provide ample protection to people trying to escape the smoke and flames. It would also allow a period in which the fire services can arrive and put out the fire.

The curtain can provide an adequate partition in-between two spaces and, thus, provide a great solution in open-plan spaces for preventing the spread of the flames.

In the event of a fire, the biggest killer is often smoke inhalation – and, more specifically, the suffocation that occurs as a result of this. A fire needs oxygen to grow and spread, and the fire curtain effectively combats this growth and prevents smoke from circulating into other areas of the building.

A fire curtain is proven to be more effective than fire doors, which are often left open in hot weather to circulate air and, even when closed, still allow smoke to seep through the cracks and intoxicate the people inside. Fire curtains are used to protect vital escape routes for people to use. These curtains also provide time for the fire services to arrive and are aimed at leaving as little structural damage to the building as possible.

Why should you trust K & D Systems with your fire safety?

K & D Systems have over 30 years’ experience of working in the industry, with their cost-effective installation services providing valuable safeguards up and down the country. Their client base establishes them within their industry as a leading driving force and experts in what they do.

With their headquarters based in the North of England in the post-industrial town of Sunderland, the brand’s main aims are to achieve long-lasting relationships with their clients and build up a solid collection of trusted fire safety advice throughout the country. Apart from these reasons, though, why should you trust K & D?

K & D Systems offer amazing value for money and stand by the fact that fire safety equipment and solutions shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg for your business or apartment. All of their fire curtains and technical safety equipment are manufactured in their Sunderland-based factory and distributed throughout the country to the company’s various clients.

With over 30 years of experience in the industry, K & D Systems can certainly be called experts in their industry and successful in what they do. Quotes are offered to potential clients within 24 hours, and the installation procedure is fast, efficient and non-disruptive to your daily routine.

K & D’s 30 years of experience in the trade has enabled the company to perform its day-to-day responsibilities with expertise that can’t be found elsewhere within the industry.

If you’re having any doubts about the quality of the products available from K & D, then rest assured when we tell you that all of the products manufactured in their Sunderland plant are independently tested by established fire services in Warrington in Chiltern before receiving certification and professional authorisation for use.

You can benefit from not only these safeguards in product and expertise, but also a high-quality and insightful service with a three-day turnaround on production and a development team that is constantly investing in research and new procedures to help improve K & D’s products and keep businesses, buildings and tenants safe from the threats of fire.

Can you get fire curtains to fit a variety of buildings?

Another major benefit of the fire and smoke curtains available from K & D Systems is that they can be manufactured and adapted to be suitable for a number of different buildings and business requirements. Whether it’s creating bespoke designs for complicated escape routes or providing large-scale curtains for wide spaces, there’s nothing that K & D can’t produce when it comes to their fire curtain.

One of our manufacturers will visit your premises to take measurements and work out the best action to take for all of your curtain needs. So, whether you run an open-plan office or shopping centre, or are the landlord of an apartment block, it’s worth enquiring about the services of K & D to work out how they can benefit you.

Our fire curtains have been proven to deliver adequate solutions in numerous different styles of buildings, from arenas and shopping centres to busy international airports. This client base proves the scope of our products and the results that they deliver in restricting fire and smoke circulation when a fire occurs.

How are fire curtains made?

The K & D fire curtains are made with precision and quality from experts with over 30 years in the fire safety industry. As well as being independently tested and safety-checked by professional fire services throughout the country, these curtains can be designed and manufactured in a bespoke fashion and are made using only the highest quality of flame retardant materials and in a fit-for-purpose manner.

Fitted with technical motors and an unlimited width of curtain with a maximum 8-metre drop, our curtains are suitable for an extremely wide range of businesses and structures. Furthermore, our installation experts deliver a hassle-free, non-disruptive service that allows for your fire curtain to be installed in a way that will enable you to get the best from your curtain and save the most lives in the event of a fire.

Where can fire curtains be used?

Fire curtains can be used in an extensive range of establishments, with the products and manufacturing of K & D Systems being visible and effective across the UK and Ireland. Our products are suitable for establishments of various types, including:

  • Stadiums and arenas
  • Shopping centres
  • Hospitals and schools
  • Businesses and homes
  • Apartments and tower blocks

Enquire further to find out more.

Do fire curtains save lives?

There’s no doubt that the products supplied by K & D Systems have helped to save lives, with the fire and smoke curtain acting as the leading example of this. Although there’s no quantifiable statistics behind the fire curtain and the lives saved relating to the products established in the K & D Systems factory, you can guarantee the effects that four hours of fire prevention can have towards both the humans affected by the fire and the structure where the fire broke out.

With most fatalities occurring due to smoke inhalation and blocked escape routes the fire and smoke curtain from K & D Systems provides not only a wall of protection but also time for people to escape from the building. The curtain even allows the fire services to arrive when exits are blocked.

Distancing ourselves from the human element of a fire, the structural damage that a fire can cause can mean increased expenses and also make it increasingly dangerous for fire-fighters to tackle the fire if too much damage has occurred. However, this can be prevented, as the fire curtain can hold the fire back, preventing the flames from growing and the toxic smoke from circulating further throughout the building.

Don’t look past K & D Systems for all of your fire safety solutions and for a cost-effective fire safety breakdown of your office, business or tenancy. Now that you have a better idea of the power that a fire and smoke curtain can have when you are looking to save lives and reduce the amount of destruction in the case of a fire, there’s no reason not to acquire a fire curtain. It could be the difference between life and death.

Contact us today or give us a call to find out more about the products we have on offer and our business.

Elevator Smoke Curtains

A guide on how to find the best fitted smoke curtains that will fully fit your elevator. This article will discuss the strength of the smoke curtains and how they can protect people from fires in a building or within an elevator.

Whether your elevator is located in a hotel, apartment, business building or even a shopping centre, one of the most dangerous things that can happen when people are inside is the outbreak of a fire. After all, these sorts of businesses and commercial areas can bring in a wide range of people, but also lead to the dangers from these people smoking, turning on heating products, utilising electrics, cooking or even just looking to do arson damage to the building itself.

With such a high volume of people (such as customers and employees) in these buildings, this will create even more potential danger, as they will be tightly packed together and looking for an exit in the event of a fire. While most of these people will make it out, the worst situation is that some of them may become trapped within an elevator as the fire rages on.

How will they be able to breathe whilst trapped in such a small space, especially if the fire causes the building to flood with smoke? Worse still, if the doors do open but then get partially stuck, this will allow the smoke to travel into the elevator, leaving the people with very little chance of escape.

According to FEMA, asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio. This why it is essential that you fully utilise the idea of adding a smoke curtain to your elevators.

For the sake of your clients and staff’s protection, and also as a means of protecting your insurance if there is fire damage to your building, you must always make sure your building fully utilises as many safety techniques as possible. A fire curtain is a modern technique that could truly save lives, as well as protect the elevator itself from any fire damage.

Why can’t I just use a traditional fire and smoke protection product?

Installing sprinklers and a fire alarm and having a fire extinguisher can be useful for providing the minimum necessary for retaliation against any potential fire hazards. Indeed, combining these fire safety essentials with any fire-resistant materials for the walls of your elevator or building in general can mean that the fire is quickly stopped before it gets out of hand.

However, consider how many of these products you may need to fill a large building. For a smaller business, it would not be a problem to install a fire extinguisher next to an elevator, but if you own or are working in a larger corporation or commercial building, you will need to buy a lot of these products in order to have them fully incorporated into the building.

You may even find that you struggle to locate the products due to the size of the building itself, which can be potentially catastrophic when an actual fire has broken out.

In addition to this, many companies and commercial buildings often can’t include traditional fire prevention tools in elevators due to their size, as well as the potential that these tools can be misused and damage the elevator itself, such as with any foam or water from sprinklers or extinguishers. This means that, if a fire breaks out inside an elevator, then this fire could quickly spread or destroy your elevator altogether.

Instead of simply buying a traditional product, it would be wiser to combine such products with modern fire prevention techniques. Instead of simply having a water, foam or powder extinguisher, you can also utilise a sound wave extinguisher or a fire blanket.

If people need to be evacuated from a building due to a fire, then why not consider combining an elevator smoke curtain to protect people from the heat and smoke of the fire, and an evacuation plan and safety meet-up point? This would mean that, if people become trapped in the building, there will always be somewhere they can go to seek shelter from any poisonous fumes or the heat.

Combine old fire safety techniques with modern techniques, as this combination can allow for a foolproof plan for saving lives should any fires appear within a building.

What is an elevator smoke curtain?

When a fire breaks out, the first thing that anyone trapped in the building is going to consider is where can they seek shelter. After all, the building will be quickly heating up, doors may be blocked and the smoke will be severely impacting their breathing.

Many people would deem hiding in an elevator a terrible idea in this situation, especially due to smoke inhalation. However, if an elevator uses a smoke curtain, this can prevent smoke from seeping into the elevator. It can also protect against the heat.

The smoke curtain can be in any design to suit your building, but it can be unrolled with the press of a button and used to shield the doors and any spaces from incoming smoke or heat. Once the fire has been quelled, then the elevator curtain can be rolled back up. Alternatively, it can come installed with a button that, once pressed, will automatically raise the curtain.

An elevator smoke curtain can also be a fantastic asset when a fire actually breaks out inside an elevator. If your elevator falls victim to a potential fire and you do not want it to spread, then the first thing you would need to do is unroll or press the automated elevator smoke curtain into place. This will prevent any smoke or fire from escaping from the elevator until the fire department arrives at your building.

This curtain will not be able to keep the elevator fully protected for a long period of time, as the fire will still be able to spread. However, the curtain will give you some extra time to take any guests, clients or staff to safety. It will also contain any smoke or fumes within the elevator itself. Once the fire department arrives, they will be able to remove the smoke curtain and put out the fire.

What are the requirements of an elevator smoke curtain?

While your elevator smoke curtain can come in a wide range of materials and colours, the first thing that it will need to fit any regulatory requirements is to be fire- and smoke-proof. Smoke curtain manufacturers usually use the term “curtain material” for their curtains’ material that consists of a mixture of cotton, steel, reinforced wire, woven glass fibre and silver polyurethane.  

In order to protect an elevator from both smoke and fire, an elevator smoke curtain can consist of a harder barrier and a fabric curtain, giving it two layers for protecting and stopping any escaping smoke, as well as keeping the temperature maintained for at least 4 hours.

The fabric itself must react efficiently to varying pressures and act as a sail to keep any escaping smoke or gases trapped. In order for the fabric to be optimised, some curtains even use off-set rollers and overlapping curtains to make sure any flames escaping from the steel barrier will still be kept behind the curtain.

Who can own elevator smoke curtains?

Technically, anyone can own elevator curtains as long as their building contains an elevator and is wide enough to fit them. However, it would be recommended that elevator smoke curtains are used mainly for commercial buildings and any sort of main housing estate.

That way, they can be utilised by a larger range of people on a daily basis, as there may be more risk associated with fires due to higher usage of the elevator and the larger population of the building.

What features can my elevator smoke curtains have?

If you are wondering what sort of smoke curtains can optimise the fire safety of your building, then you may want to consider having the following features added to your smoke curtains:

  • Double or triple fabric layering
  • Automatic movement
  • Plated bases
  • Horizontal/vertical placement
  • Fire shutters
  • Additional ventilation systems
  • Additional smoke plating
  • Additional evacuation barrier/curtains placement

How long can smoke curtains keep a fire or smoke inside an elevator?

As your elevator smoke curtains are designed to maintain a certain heat and pressure within the elevator, they can keep people protected, or a fire maintained, for at least 4 hours. This depends on the material used and how many layers you choose to have.

The stronger your curtain’s material and the more flexible it is under heat and pressure, the longer it will be able to last to protect your clients/staff from a fire and smoke inhalation. You will need a product that can last as long as necessary for the fire department to be called and arrive at your building to put out the fire. This is why it is recommended to always look for curtains that are made from steel or strong metal.

What sort of elevator smoke curtains can I purchase?

If you are interested in finding the appropriate smoke curtain for your elevator, then you will need to consider how big your building and elevator truly is. While these curtains will not appear ugly or ruin the aesthetic of your building, they can be expensive and you will need to consider whether or not you solely want a fire-proof curtain, a smoke-proof curtain or a combined product.

You should always spend the appropriate amount of money on the safety of your building and its customers and staff, which is why it is always best to buy a combined curtain.

Your curtain can also come with the following features:

  • Automatic – If you are after top-of-the-line technology alongside a smooth design, then you may want to consider investing in an automatic curtain. These curtains contain sensors that detect heat or smoke. When they detect it, the curtain will automatically be brought down to protect the elevator. However, it will also contain a button that will allow it to be hidden away again, just in case the fire was a false alarm. 

Keep in mind that, while an automatic curtain can be useful, it does contact electrical wiring that could become hazardous. However, as this is protected by the curtains, it remains very unlikely that this wiring will come in contact with the flames unless the product is damaged.

  • Gravity fail-safe curtains – Automatic curtains can be quite expensive to fit – so, if you are looking for a cheaper variation of them, you may want to consider installing a gravity fail-safe curtain. If this curtain detects heat or smoke, the fire alarm will be alerted and will power the curtains to instantly descend using gravity instead of an automated system.

As soon as the threat has passed and the fire alarm system is reset, the curtains can be either adjusted to their usual position, automatically retracted or rolled back up with the use of a roller and key system. These products can be powered by an electrical system or through a battery backup system, meaning that you will always be in control of your curtains even if the main power supply of your building fails.

What sort of designs can elevator smoke curtains come in?

This depends entirely on the architecture of your building, as well as what colours you think will suit the appearance of the elevator. You cannot visually differentiate between the materials of the smoke curtains themselves, such as copper, steel, cotton or wiring additions.

If you want your smoke curtain to be in a specific colour or have additional patterns or features added to it, be sure to talk to your provider to see what sort of colours and features they can use to make your curtain unique to your own building. However, keep in mind that you should always put the curtain’s efficiency first!

Fire curtain in the theatre

This article will discuss the appearance of the fire curtain in the theatre. It will discuss its uses and how it can prevent the spread of a fire from the stage to the auditorium. This article also looks at the history of fire safety, including fire curtains, in the theatre.

If you go to the theatre often, you may well have seen the safety curtain in front of the more decorative dress curtain descend and ascend again at some point during the show. This has most likely been during the interval, or possibly finally after the last encore, when it descends to signal the definite end of the show.

If you have keen eyes, you will probably have noticed that, whatever show you go to see within a traditional theatre, whenever the fire curtain comes down, the scenery is all behind it. The fire curtain, then, is the final barrier between the audience and the show.

Even in a traditional proscenium arch theatre, this curtain comes in front of the beautiful red curtains that represent the theatre as an idea. However, what is the fire curtain, and how did it come to be part of the theatrical experience around the world?

What is a fire curtain?

Fire curtains are heavy curtains traditionally made of iron or fibreglass which are designed to be able to drop on the front of the stage, in the event that a fire breaks out on-stage, to ensure that the audience is not endangered.

Throughout history, theatres have sought to incorporate as many effects and pyrotechnics as the state of technology has allowed – and, with health and safety not always having caught up to the state of the art, this has led to many theatre fires over the centuries.

The most famous British example of a theatre fire is probably Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre, which burnt down in 1613 after a cannon, fired as part of a play, misfired into the thatch of the roof, starting a blaze which burnt the building to the ground.

This is one example of pyrotechnics which could not have been stopped by an iron safety curtain. Indeed, the new Globe Theatre is one theatre which, due to its accurate recreation as a polygonal theatre with no wings or proscenium arch, does not have a safety curtain. Wherever safety curtains are used, the risk from pyrotechnics is greatly reduced.

The Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona has suffered two major fires since its opening in 1847. The first, in 1861, gutted much of the stage and the auditorium. Disaster struck the theatre again in 1994, when a spark from a routine repair fell on the flammable stage curtain and set it alight very quickly. These incidents point to the importance of fire curtains as preventative measures.

How can fire curtains be operated?

There are multiple systems for operating fire curtains. Most modern systems run on an automatic system ensuring that, if fire is detected by the system, the curtain descends on the front of the stage, protecting the audience.

In some older theatres, there are still backstage levers that the stage manager can pull to make the curtain lower manually, a measure which gives a person backstage a hand in preventing disaster early.

Many modern systems run water down the curtain as it descends to attack a potential fire on as many fronts as possible and ensure that there is time to get the blaze under control before the auditorium is destroyed.

What is the history of the fire curtain in the theatre?

The fire curtain was first seen in a British theatre in 1794 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, an industry leader in many regards. The fire curtain, like all early fire curtains, was made of iron, which led to the theatre slang of calling the theatre curtain an “iron” in English theatre.

Some theatres did take up the fire curtain over the course of the early 19th century, but this was not legally mandated at all venues. It was not until after the tragic fire of 1887 at the Royal Theatre, Exeter, which claimed nearly two hundred lives and could have been prevented by the presence of a fire curtain, that they started to become the norm in theatres across Britain and America.

However, these changes were slow in coming and sometimes not treated as real requirements of running an effective theatre. The cost of installing a high-functioning fire curtain could also be considerable, especially when being fitted into an existing theatre for the first time.

While the addition of safety curtains was taken up widely, they were not always taken up in the most effective ways. In the case of the 1903 Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago, the theatre was not well-designed for fire issues, and the curtain itself jammed during a stage fire while only half-descended. This allowed the fire to spread beyond the stage. This and other design failings led to the deaths of six hundred people.

After the disaster at the Iroquois Theatre, there was a more widespread realisation of the importance of good fire safety in theatres. Legislation gathered momentum across Britain and America and elsewhere in the following centuries for the increased importance, although not always the necessity, of stage curtains.

In Britain, a law was passed requiring that the curtain be lowered during every performance to reassure audience members that they were safe from fires, and this law has been taken up in other parts of the world as well. This is one reason why the curtain is often lowered during the interval and then raised again – although, for shows with pyrotechnics, there is also a more general safety concern about the ever-present danger of fires breaking out.

Are all theatrical safety curtains constructed safely?

For much of the 20th century, asbestos was used in the construction of the safety curtains used in theatre safety curtains around the world. While asbestos was used and acknowledged as deadly as far back as Roman times, in the 20th century, it was repackaged as a miraculous wonder material and used in a wide range of purposes.

The qualities of sound dampening and very effective fire-proofing made it an ideal material for safety curtains. Its use in safety curtains was not an immediate health hazard, as in the use of sprayable paints containing asbestos, which can cause serious health issues due to their blowing around the air and environment.

Asbestos in safety curtains was often sealed safely away from the air, but still represented a serious health risk, which led to theatres overhauling their curtains in the latter quarter of the twentieth century, when the negative effects on public health were realised.

Modern safety curtains have switched towards fully iron and fibreglass since the 1980s, with the focus on ensuring that they are not a long-term health risk to the theatre staff.

While the safety curtain is designed to protect the audience in case of emergency, it is important that long-term exposure to a safety device does not result in a health crisis among the theatre technicians building up slowly over time. The newer curtains avoid this with their safer constituent parts, although fibreglass can still shed material over time and lead to coughing fits.

Do all theatres need safety curtains?

While all large theatres tend to require stage curtains, in the United States, it is acceptable for smaller theatres to merely have fire retardant tabs, black curtains made of material that does not burn. The determining point in size is whether the stage is higher than 15 metres/50 feet.

While only larger theatres than this in the United States require safety curtains, in the United Kingdom, there is a more ambiguous measure.

All larger British theatres contain safety curtains, and the rule for proscenium arch theatres at present is that they should offer protection to the audience against fire to prevent the kind of disasters which struck in the past in events such as the Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago in 1903.

In most older theatres, this is in the form of the theatre iron, and the state of the law can leave some uncertainty. A 2005 Act rules that all fire measures must be kept in working order, implying that theatres with safety curtains in place must maintain them.

However, in the past, it has been possible for theatres to dispense with their fire curtains after they were found inoperable, and still continue to run as theatres. This was only possible if the theatre showed that its fire safety plans, sprinkler systems and evacuation plans were up to the task of preventing the causes of previous theatre fires.

Many smaller venues built recently are constructed without any curtain at all, and different contexts often determine whether or not a safety curtain is needed, as do the choices of the local authority. The modern need for a safety curtain can also be determined by the presence, or lack thereof, of other safety features.

What are the major advantages of theatrical safety curtains?

With a lot of extremely high-powered machinery in the stage, the fire safety curtain has kept audiences safe for over two hundred years. Having the curtain ready to descend speedily is essential in preventing smoke inhalation among the audience.

Even in a large auditorium, and especially in a small space, the effects of smoke for audience members with sensitive throats or lungs or with conditions such as asthma can present a serious health concern even in the event of a small, containable fire. In the event of a slow-moving larger blaze, smoke inhalation can be a deadly threat to everyone in the auditorium.

The fire curtain’s main role is, of course, to keep the fire contained away from the audience. In modern theatres, this is combined with a “chimney”. This is a large opening above the stage and backstage area which will, in the event of fire, open wide to the sky above, ensuring that the fire can escape up and out of the theatre and that the only areas destroyed are the set and backstage areas.

Safety curtains are often designed with sprinkler heads for water to run down from a sprinkler system onto the stage as well. This further distils the effect of fires on-stage and brings a lowered chance of fires spreading.

With this said, many stage fires in the 20th century were caused by electrical equipment with a very high wattage getting wet on-stage and short-circuiting, so has brought its own risks. However, these risks are balanced out by the presence of the safety curtain – which, in the event of this emergency, would ensure that any further issues were not a danger to the audience and only affected the set and backstage area.

Safety curtains are also an incredibly useful safety feature in the event of a fire when the theatre is empty. While some smaller venues do not have safety curtains and instead rely on fire route planning and good practice for evacuating a full theatre, in the unlikely event of a fire starting while the theatre is empty, these measures may not be able to stop the fires spreading from the stage into the auditorium.

In this case, without a safety curtain in place to fall automatically to curtail the process, the time it would take for a fire to be discovered would most likely result in a blaze of the kind seen in the late 19th century, when theatre fires were all too common.

Do productions ever make their own unique safety curtains?

Many theatres have highly decorative safety curtains, partly to distract from how unattractive an unpainted iron curtain is. The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is one example, with an ornate gold inlay, but individual productions such as Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty and the London production of Heathers also had their own stylised safety curtains which reflected the imagery of their productions. These small extra steps helped to add to the audience experience of the show while ensuring a safe show for all involved.

Domestic Fire Curtains

A guide to assist you in finding a domestic fire curtain that can protect you and your home from a fire. It will also discuss which materials are most appropriate for your fire curtain and how you can use it to add to the aestheticism of your home.

Purchasing a fire curtain does not only have to be for a commercialised building or a large business building. Every home that utilises electricity or cooking instruments could be at risk of a fire. Even seasonal events could produce products that become a fire hazard problem – for instance, if any of the electrical wiring sparks on the Christmas tree could make it catch fire.

That is why it is important to have your home fully protected in order to make sure you can retain your domestic bliss. A domestic fire curtain can ensure your safety while retaining the comfort and aesthetic picture of your home.

After all, until your domestic fire curtain is needed, it will be completely out of sight. If need be, then it can also be used to replace any non-loadbearing walls, fire doors and un-insulated glazing that could be a potential fire hazard.

If your house has suffered any potential damage over the years that you have been living there, then you may even find that your domestic fire curtain can be used to replace a wall, wall or window glazing, doors, serving hatches or even your ceiling.

Domestic fire curtains can remain semi-translucent or come in an array of colours that will suit your surroundings. For the best results, consult with your provider and then compare the colours of the fire curtain to your home. That way, you can see what colours would best suit your surroundings, meaning that you do not have to lose the aesthetic quality of your home due to your safety addition.

What is a domestic fire curtain?

If you consider the traditional means of fire prevention, you may think that the only things you can provide are either a sprinkler system or just a fire extinguisher that is filled with water, powder, foam or CO2. However, can you truly imagine any of these items being placed within your home?

Not only can they potentially damage your home’s interior, whether that is due to water damage or staining from the power and foam, they will also take away from the aesthetic of each room and take up space that could be used for suitable furniture.

The only traditional form of fire protection can be through glazing within your windows and walls, as well as a fire alarm that can alert the domestic inhabitants or the fire brigade.

This is where a domestic fire curtain be extremely useful, as it can not only be hidden away but also provide your home with the protection it needs in order to contain a fire. The domestic fire curtain will contain a fire and prevent it from spreading to other parts of your house.

In addition to this, you will find that domestic fire curtains will prevent smoke and any other toxic fumes from moving from one room to another. This means that, if anyone is trapped in the building, they will be protected from the worst of the fire.

Why should I buy a domestic fire curtain?

Buying a domestic fire curtain can be a fantastic way of modernising the safety of your home. While you can keep traditional fire safety appliances on hand, such as a fire extinguisher or a fire alarm, modern safety technology can keep you and your family safe. This is especially the case if there is a fire that you simply cannot put out without the assistance of the fire brigade.

A domestic fire curtain can provide you with the control you need to contain the fire and then get you (and your family) out of your house to safety. This is because the automatic door will always slot into place once it detects a fire and will create a safe barrier between you, the flames and the smoke.

This also means that it will give you the time to phone the fire brigade before the flames start spreading through the different rooms of the house. If the fire is contained in one room, less of your property will become damaged and so may need to be replaced. As most fire curtains also contain emergency exits, the fire brigade will be able to easily enter the room to control the fire.

What features does my domestic fire curtain have?

If you are considering having a domestic fire curtain installed in your home, that curtain can include additional features for optimising the safety of any sort of room. However, you may also want to consider the following additions to your fire curtain:

  • Double or triple fabric layering
  • Automated fire curtain movement
  • Plated bases
  • Horizontal/vertical placement
  • Fire shutters
  • Additional ventilation systems
  • Emergency escape mechanisms/exit ways
  • Additional smoke plating

How will a domestic fire curtain protect me?

Your domestic fire curtain will be made out of two layers in order to force the fire to remain in the room where it started. The main purpose of the domestic fire curtain is to ensure that the fire and smoke are not able to spread to different rooms in the house. If the fire is contained, then it will be more easily manageable for the fire department and also protect the house’s residents.

This is why your fire curtain will make sure that, if a fire starts in a room, its fire alert system will force the fabric to drop over the doorway and contain the fire within one room. The curtain will be made of a harder metal and a non-flammable fabric.

As the curtain will create a layering effect, this means that, if the harder metal surface does not stop the flames or the smoke, the second fabric’s layering will keep it trapped until the fire department can release the barrier and then put out the fire.

Your curtain will also be powered by a main power supply that is connected directly to your fire hazard system. However, should this power system fail due to an electrical fault, you can also use battery control in order to make sure your curtain’s automatic features are always powered and ready to be used.

In addition to this, you can also utilise the split drop of the curtain to allow for emergency access from the fire brigade or anyone who is to move away from the fire. This will only allow for the fabric side of the domestic fire curtain to drop down to allow for access both in and out of the room.

If you are looking for a way to communicate with people outside of the building, your curtain can also come with an integrated radio receiver that will allow you to communicate with the fire brigade and any potential channels that you have contacted previously. This will make sure that you are fully in contact with others who can help you to put out the fire in your building.

For how long can a domestic fire curtain protect me?

A fire curtain’s main purpose is to provide control over erratic behaviour of a spreading fire. It can become more of a hazard in a smaller space, as this means that it may spread at a faster rate throughout the domestic household.

There is very little time when it comes to preventing the spread of a fire, and this is why your fire curtain is programmed to detect the fire quickly before using its layered system to keep the fire and smoke in the same place.

The amount of time for which it can prevent the fire from spreading should be around 4 hours; however, it will completely depend on the material from which your door is made. The stronger the metal and less flammable the fabric, the longer your domestic fire curtain can protect you.

Your curtain will need to be able to handle the pressure of the heat and be flexible enough to keep it maintained in one area of the room. Therefore, always keep this in mind when you choose the material of your domestic fire curtain, as your choice of material could otherwise become the main reason why your safety is compromised.

What sort of material can my domestic fire curtain be made out of?

If you are considering what metal you would prefer for your curtain, it is best to pick something made of either steel or copper. These metals are practically flame-resistant and can heat up to handle the pressure of the fire while also remaining flexible enough to stand against it.

If you are choosing a second layer to combat against the flames and any escaping smoke, you may want to consider tight, stainless steel wiring and cotton fabric, as these can last against high temperatures and make sure that the smoke is caught between the fibres of the fabric.

What additional benefits can a domestic fire curtain provide?

Not only can a domestic fire curtain improve the safety of your home, it may also help you to get cheaper premiums for your home insurance.

One of the main things that your insurance company is looking for is assurance that your home is fully protected against any potential damage. Whether that is damage from a burglary, water damage or even fire damage, the insurer will be looking to you to provide examples of what you can do to prevent these accidents from taking place.

While you can prove that you are looking after your home through the traditional methods of fire prevention, such as a fire alarm, purchasing a modern domestic fire curtain for your home can prove that you are taking steps to ensure that all of your rooms are fully protected from any potential damage if a fire should occur.

As you are proving that you are taking steps to keep your house protected, your insurer may be willing to offer you a discount, as you have proven that you are less likely to make a claim due to an accident within your home.

Are there extra features that can come with the domestic fire curtain?

If you are looking to add some more features to your safety curtain to optimise its fire control abilities, you may want to consider installing an automatic or gravity fail-safe curtain brand.

Automatic

An automatic design is used to instantly detect a potential fire hazard, and thus react accordingly in order to contain it. If your curtain contains fire sensors that detect heat or smoke, then the safety curtain will be automatically unravelled to protect any people outside of the room.

However, it will also contain a button with which you can end the safety processes if the fire is a false alarm. Once the button has been triggered, the automatic design will move away, out of sight.

Gravity fail-safe curtain brand

An automatic domestic fire curtain can be extremely expensive, so you may want to consider a cheaper option in the form of gravity fail-safe curtains. If this curtain detects heat or smoke, it will trigger the fire alarm and so instantly power the curtains to descend.

This will be done through gravity rather than by an automated system. Once you are ready to put the curtains away, you can roll them up by hand, move them up automatically or have them rolled back into position using mechanical rotas.

What designs can I get for my domestic fire curtain?

While your main focus on your domestic curtain should be the material of which it is made, if you are looking for your curtains to aesthetically match your house and design tastes, you may want to consider talking to us in order to find the perfect colour for your curtain.

They will present you with your colour options. Compare them to the design of the room and your provider would be happy to create your own personalised curtain.

Fire Safety in Care Homes

A guide that discusses what fire safety procedures need to be implemented in a care home to ensure the safety of everyone who lives there. This guide includes what potential training techniques could be useful in the event of a fire and how often you should practice them. 

When you work in a care home, you need to remember that your first priority is protecting the safety of your clients. Your clients are in a care home to ensure that they receive the treatment and support they need to continue a healthy lifestyle even in old age.

Their quality of life must remain in a good state with a caring hand from all of the staff at the care home. However, the emergence of a fire will truly shake everyone’s confidence. Your elderly patients may no longer feel safe on the premises, and your staff may want to work in a building that contains less of a fire hazard.

You cannot predict when a fire may appear, as it can be caused through the simplest of things, such as through cooking, an electrical wiring problem or a power fault. However, you can still protect the elderly inhabitants and staff that work within the care home.

You can do this by installing a training timetable that everyone must follow to make sure that everyone can get out of the building without anyone getting hurt.

Why does my care home need to be concerned about fire safety?

The domestic residents of a care home may be elderly or of ill health, meaning that they are extremely vulnerable and fragile. This is why it is essential that extra care should be given to anyone who lives within a care home. It also means that, if there is any chance of a fire hazard that could potentially harm someone, it is your duty to ensure that the hazard is minimised as much as possible.

If a fire does break out and you are not prepared, you may find that it is more difficult to move less-mobile residents from the care home to a safe environment. Instead of having a safe spot to meet in, some residents may even get lost or wander away from the group altogether.

Your staff need to be fully trained in order to assist with the organisation of your fire safety evacuation plan, but they also need to be able to identify a potential risk and minimise it. After all, a fire can begin from a very small source but cause a very big problem.

From cooking equipment to electrical cables, just one problem with these devices could lead your care home to start filling with smoke. This is why your staff need to be prepared to identify any potential hazards before a fire even breaks out, as well as the locations of all of your fire prevention equipment, such as fire alarms, sprinkler systems and also any water, CO2 or powder-based fire extinguishers.

Should I only give fire safety training to my care home staff?

Though your first priority for fire safety training is in regards to your staff, you should always keep your elderly inhabitants aware of what safety procedures are being implemented to try and stop any potential fire hazards before they happen.

Instead of lecturing them, you can save your intense training session for your staff – your meeting with your elderly patients should consist of a simple rundown of the procedures that are going to be implemented. If you have an evacuation plan in case of fire or simply want to point out the locations of fire alarms or sprinklers, your care home dwellers can be informed while they are enjoying their afternoon tea. 

If you are concerned that they may forget about any of the information you have provided, then you can provide a simplified brochure or poster that can keep them alerted to any potential fire hazards, what the signs are of a fire and where to evacuate to in case there is a fire. Setting up a meeting point is an essential way to move your care home inhabitants to a safer location that will not be affected by the fire.

Always keep your patients informed and ready for when a fire may happen with a fire drill. By alerting them to a practice procedure, this will allow you and your care home inhabitants to move to the safe spot in a more organised (and, eventually, quicker) manner.

Are there safety regulations needed for care homes?

Ever since the Care Home Regulations Act of 2001, it has been necessary for every vulnerable resident to be safeguarded against any potential threat. The Act also states that they will need special attention and care during more stressful emergencies, such as the emergence of a fire, an accident or even a break-in.

Once a care home is registered with the government, it will need to follow these procedures to remain a verified residence for the vulnerable and elderly:

  • Consult with the fire authorities (i.e. the fire brigade) for the best fire safety procedures
  • Take cautions against any sort of fire risk within or on the outside of the premises
  • Making suitable arrangements for the detection, containment and extinguishing of fires by using recommended fire safety equipment (i.e. a smoke curtains or fire curtains, an extinguisher or sprinklers)
  • Ensure the timely maintenance of all fire safety equipment located within and outside of the building
  • Take the time to fully train the care home staff in regards to how to handle a fire safety hazard and evacuations. You will also need to appoint 5 competent fire wardens to monitor the overall safety of the premises.
  • Organise fire drills to allow for staff and residents to practice evacuation procedures. All drills must be recorded to provide evidence, alongside recorded footage of any equipment tests.

When you have fully been approved for all of these procedures, the government will be satisfied that your care home is up to standard. However, be sure to maintain it; otherwise, the result could be a rapidly spreading fire around the care home.

How can my staff help prevent a fire in our care home?

If you imagine your care home to be like a body, then your staff are the hard-working blood vessels that keep the body constantly moving and full of energy. If your care staff do not fully understand how to do their jobs or take fire prevention strategies, then you may find that your care home is full of very angry inhabitants.

Take your time with your staff’s training – as, whatever you pass onto your staff, they will pass it onto your care home inhabitants. Make sure that your staff are aware of what sort of things could account for a fire hazard. These could include:

  • Electrical hazards – such as an electrical wire left unprotected near a flammable object
  • Rubbish and waste material – Any cigarettes or matches dropped on accumulated waste can cause a quick fire
  • Smoking – Glowing cigarette butts dropped onto flammable sources (such as paper) can cause small fires capable of growing larger
  • Cooking – Open fires and electrical stoves can cause a fire to emerge if food and materials are left on hot services for too long
  • Heating appliances – Portable heaters can be a fantastic addition to a care home. However, if they are left on for too long and are on a flammable surface, then this can cause a potential fire hazard.

From the moment your staff sees a potential fire hazard, they should make a risk assessment of it. What are the sources of ignition, what is the source of fuel and what are the sources of oxygen? These are the three main questions they should be observing. If each of these questions can be answered, then you are facing a real fire risk.

In order to stamp out the fire risk before it happens, your staff need to take action to eliminate one of the sources that were mentioned in the question. For example, if they are looking for a source of ignition in a kitchen, they may consider turning off a cooker or unplugging it. They can also remove the flammable object (i.e. the fuel source) from the heat source to ensure that it does not catch fire.

Moving these objects out of each other’s reach before they catch fire will ensure the safety of your care home, its residents and your staff. These techniques are simple but extremely effective.

Should I consider a fire alarm?

Yes, your care home should always have alarms that are utilised on every floor. Your care home may have people with hearing difficulties; therefore, if the alarm is in only a single area of the building, these people may not be aware of the approaching danger of the fire.

Your care home should have manual call points that are installed next to every alarm. That way, if there is a fire, then your staff will be able to contact each other in order to warn them about the fire. Plan ahead to ensure that, if the alarms do make a noise, it will be loud enough for people to hear it all the way around your building. If it won’t be, then you will need to place alarms that are closer to the residents so that they can be alerted to the fire.

However, do remember that you are housing very vulnerable, and potentially timid, residents. Sleeping areas should only have alarms that are at least 75dBA, but if you find that your alarm noise and loudness start to panic residents, then you may want to turn it down to 45dBA in order make sure that the residents do not panic. Instead, the staff should be more supportive and go to the locations of each of the residents to make sure that they are able to leave the building safely.

Should I implement drills and training procedures?

It is vitally important that all of your drills and fire safety training procedures include both your staff and your residents. Many of your residents will struggle to evacuate on their own, so will require extra support from your staff to make it to safety.

While your staff support your inhabitants, then your appointed fire wardens should be ready to lead the evacuation for everyone inside the building with as little risk as possible.

In order to create as little risk as possible, your fire wardens should ensure that all of your emergency exits remain unblocked and have no obstructions that could potentially stop those exits from opening. These wardens should also ensure that the doors are made of fire-resistant material and can accommodate any mobility-impaired residents, such as those in a wheelchair.

The wardens should further ensure that all potential signs pointing to the emergency exit are fully functional and are easily viewable in either the light or darkness. In addition to this, the wardens should know the location of any fire prevention item, such as a fire extinguisher or alarm, so that they will always be able to utilise these products should they actually encounter any dangerous fires.

With this in mind, it is up to your fire wardens to create a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP for short) that can get any vulnerable resident out of the building in the shortest amount of time. The plan will refer to all emergency exits and potential fire prevention kits, and explain how the staff will fully assist any elderly or vulnerable resident with leaving the care home.

Once the resident has left alongside the staff members, then a safe spot must be picked to ensure that everyone is standing at a safe distance from the fire and smoke. You will need to organise a meeting to pick the best place, though a nearby car park would be an ideal meeting spot. Be sure to keep a list of names handy for such emergencies, as you will need a way of checking that everyone has made it out of the building.

Be sure to try these techniques in drills at least once a year. This will keep your staff fully prepared and ready if a fire breaks out in your care home.

Fire Safety in Restaraunts

There are around 20,000 commercial fires in the UK each year. Restaurants are highly vulnerable to fire. Learn more about fire safety in restaurants and how to prepare for the worst-case scenario of a fire breaking out.

Often, restaurants provide more than just food on a plate. They provide a place for people to come together and socialise or celebrate with loved ones, meet new people, try new cuisines and create lasting memories. It’s all about building the best experience for your customers.

However, this can quickly turn into a disaster. With open flames, cooking equipment and electrical appliances, restaurant kitchens are always at high risk of fire. A fire can devastate your restaurant and cause disruption and loss of revenues, as well as potential injuries. Not only that, but failure to meet Government fire regulations can land you in legal trouble.

Fire safety in restaurants should never be ignored, so it is essential that you have protective measures in place to help you deal with the worst-case scenario. Read on for the most frequently asked questions concerning fire safety in restaurants.

FAQs

What is the law surrounding fire safety in restaurants?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 covers general fire safety for premises used for non-domestic purposes in England and Wales. In Scotland, this is covered in the Fire (Scotland) Act, 2005, supported by the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order?

The Order requires you to carry out a fire risk assessment to identify possible fire precautions, reduce or eliminate the risk from fire as far as possible and create a plan to deal with any emergency.

Who is responsible for ensuring fire safety in restaurants?

Every business must have a designated “Responsible Person”, usually the manager or owner.

What is the job of the “Responsible Person”?

It is the job of the “Responsible Person” to make sure that action is taken to prevent fires as well as injury or death should a fire break out. It is that person’s responsibility to conduct a fire risk assessment of the premises and review this regularly. They must also communicate fire risks to staff and implement appropriate fire safety measures.

Do I need to check my fire safety regulations?

It is important to regularly check and maintain your fire safety precautions to ensure that they meet UK legislation requirements and are adequate. Failure to do so can lead to prosecution and severe fines.

What are the main causes of fire in restaurants?

The main causes of fires in restaurants and takeaways in the UK are kitchen appliances (25%), cookers (23%) and electrical distribution (17%).

What are the common risks of fires in restaurants?

There are a lot of potential causes of fire in restaurants – such as open flames, cooking oils, hot equipment, blocked escape routes, electric appliances and failure to keep ducting clean.

Why are restaurants a high fire risk?

Over half of all fires attended in the UK involve cooking equipment such as chip/fat pan fires, misuse of electrical appliances and careless handling of fire and hot substances. Therefore, restaurants are a high fire risk because their environments include many potential causes of fire.

What can I do to prevent a fire in my restaurant?

To help prevent a fire in your restaurant or prevent a fire from spreading, make sure you close fire doors properly and avoid obstructing escape routes. Ensure that equipment, like fire alarms, is installed to help you detect and warn others of a fire.

Don’t forget the importance of firefighting equipment – having different types of fire extinguisher means that you can cover all types of fire.

Making your restaurant safe

Most fires are preventable, but it only takes a few seconds for a small flare-up to turn into a big blaze. The time spent improving fire safety could save the lives of employees and customers as well as minimise the amount of disruption to your restaurant.

Becoming aware of fire safety and developing effective protective measures means that the chances of fire are reduced. Should a fire occur, these measures also allow you to adopt the right procedures to control or contain a fire efficiently.

The first step to improving fire safety in your restaurant is to appoint a suitable “Responsible Person” to fulfil the Fire Safety Order requirements and carry out a fire risk assessment. They must be trained, have relevant knowledge and experience and feel confident in their ability to implement such measures.

Have you completed a fire risk assessment?

Required by law, a fire risk assessment identifies any hazards that could result in a fire and people who would be at risk. Based on these findings, you can begin to prepare an adequate fire safety plan to ensure that any person of the premises can stay safe in the event of a fire. It is important this fire safety plan is regularly reviewed to keep it up to date.

When conducting a fire risk assessment, consider aspects such as:

  • Emergency routes and exits
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Fire detection and warning signs
  • Firefighting equipment
  • An emergency fire evacuation plan
  • Staff fire safety training

To read more about fire risk assessments, you can check out the Government’s guide here.

Provide staff with fire safety training

Now that you’ve identified where things can go wrong, it’s important to inform and train your staff in fire prevention. Make sure staff know how to spot potential fire hazards as well as the relevant action to take.

Staff must be given appropriate information and instructions regarding fire safety as well as training on how to mitigate the threat of fire. Educating staff on when and how to contact the emergency services in the event of a fire will make sure the most appropriate action can be taken. Teach employees how to use firefighting equipment such as fire blankets and fire extinguishers and ensure that employees are aware of escape routes as well as how to escort any customers out of the premises.

Avoid fire hazards through enforcing daily tasks. These tasks can include disposing of flammable waste such as cardboard boxes and paper, keeping emergency exits clear, storing food away from heat and cooking equipment, and cleaning walls, work surfaces and equipment thoroughly, as grease can reduce air flow.

Kit out your restaurant kitchen

There are numerous ways that you can safeguard your restaurant’s kitchen by installing fire safety equipment to prevent or stop a fire from occurring. This equipment includes:

Fire alarms

UK legislation requires businesses to have an appropriate fire detection system. Placing heat detectors in your restaurant’s kitchen will reduce the chances of unnecessary false alarms being set off by steam but allow true risks to be detected.

Place smoke alarms elsewhere in your restaurant so that all other occupants in the building can be made aware of any danger. Further improve safety by linking fire alarms so that they sound in unison when a threat is detected.

Test fire alarms weekly to ensure they are in working order and have them served every 6 months.

Fire extinguishers

Businesses also require firefighting equipment in the UK. As restaurants are higher risk businesses, they may need more than just portable fire extinguishers; for example, restaurants may also need sprinklers.

Having different types of fire extinguisher in your restaurant will prepare you for all types of fire. For example, a fire blanket can provide a quick way for you to extinguish a pan fire, whereas a CO2 fire extinguisher would be appropriate for use on electrical equipment.

Equipment must be easily accessed and undergo annual maintenance. Remember, never use water to try to put out an electrical, grease or chemical fire.

Fire safety signs

Different types of fire safety signs should be displayed around your restaurant. A fire action notice explains what to do in case of a fire, a fire extinguisher ID sign explains and locates different types of extinguisher, and fire exit signs provide information on how to evacuate in case of a fire. Such signs are mandatory.

Emergency lights

Should your normal lights fail in the event of a fire, emergency lighting would be required. Lighting of this type ensures that escape routes are still visible, highlights firefighting equipment and reduces panic.

Electrical items

When it comes to electrical items in the kitchen, there are numerous protective measures to consider. Firstly, your electrical system must be able to handle your restaurant’s occupancy load; otherwise, it can cause a fire. Look out for signs for an overloaded circuit such as a beaker tipping as well as less obvious indications like dimmed lights or buzzing switches.

Make sure leads are out of the way from cookers and surfaces when being used by staff. All electrical appliances should be stored away carefully, with their leads away from any cookers, heat sources and water at all times.

When it comes to your restaurant cookers, keep away flammable materials such as tea towels, oils and unnecessary foods that can easily catch fire. Keeping your cookers and surfaces clean also minimises the risk of fire, making sure traces of grease and built-up fat are gone. Remember to clean extraction ducts and repair any gaps or breaks in them. Failure to do so creates a fire hazard as flammable grease, dust and fats can build up as well as prevent ventilation systems from working efficiently.

Appliances should regularly undergo maintenance to check for any electrical faults. Be watchful for any hazards such as frayed cords or wiring on equipment that can easily cause a fire.

In a busy restaurant kitchen, it can be difficult to avoid using a lot of sockets. Overloaded socks are a common cause of fires, so it is important to ensure equipment is switched off when it is not being used and overnight or whenever the premises are not occupied.

Safety when cooking

A restaurant kitchen can often be busy and rushed by nature, but it is important to make this environment as safe as possible. Workstations should be adequately spaced apart to avoid the risk of fire and avoid flames spreading quickly. All foods, oils and any other flammable ingredients should be stored at least 3 feet away from cooking areas.

It is also easy to be distracted while cooking, especially if a lot is going on in your restaurant kitchen. Try to maintain organised processes to avoid distractions and train staff to remain calm under pressure. Pans should never be left unattended while on heat, and handles should be turned so that they do not cause an obstruction.

Protect your kitchen staff by investing in uniforms that are fire-retardant. This will slow or stop the spread of fire and reduce its intensity, increasing safety for employees.

Set hearts on fire this Valentine’s Day – not your restaurant

During February, fire services across the nation roll out advice regarding the dangers Valentine’s Day celebrations can bring. With romance in the air, this guarantees a jam-packed restaurant full of couples, which could be hectic.

Candles rank as one of the top fire hazards around Valentine’s Day. While decorating your restaurant with candles can set a romantic mood, it is easy for them to be misplaced. Decorative items such as curtains, tablecloths, napkins and hanging decorations can easily catch fire.

Battery-operated candles provide a safer alternative, but if you’d prefer the real deal, avoid burning candles close together, as this can cause the flame to flare. The dining area should be well-ventilated, but avoid drafts to prevent uneven burning.

Before customers arrive, make sure candles are placed on tables and other stable surfaces securely before you light them. Make sure you place candles in proper holders and that they can’t be easily knocked over by customers or waiting staff.

Be sure to test out smoke alarms throughout all the premises. Candle flames mean that your restaurant is at higher risk of fire; therefore, if one should occur, it is crucial that everyone is alerted.

Valentine’s Day adds extra fire risk, do not ignore the dangers. Check that all candles are put out – the only sparks that should be flying are romantic ones!

7 reasons to trust K & D Systems

  1. We're amazing value for money: all our manufacturing takes place within our plant in Sunderland.
  2. We have a team there to respond to all quotes within 24 hours.
  3. Our installation team have over 30 years' fitting experience.
  4. All our smoke and fire curtains are independently tested either by Warrington or Chiltern Fire and are fully certified.
  5. We offer controlled decent and gravity fail safe systems.
  6. We are continually investing in research and development.
  7. We offer a 3 day turnaround time* on production.

*3 day turnaround time subject to certain restrictions; please ask us.