Draft Curtains for Warehouse Fire Safety

Although your warehouse meets legal fire safety requirements, it may not provide sufficient protection against the risk of a devastating fire. While fire codes and OSHA standards regulations set the baseline for warehouse safety, they should be viewed as the bare minimum, not a guarantee of comprehensive fire prevention and preparedness.

Despite meeting fire code and passing safety inspections, warehouses can still benefit from enhanced fire prevention measures. With warehouses sustaining an average of $155 million in annual property damage, investing in additional safeguards is a financially prudent decision that can yield long-term savings.

While there are various warehouse fortification options, draft curtains provide an affordable yet highly effective solution for improving fire and smoke control.

Purpose of Draft Curtains

Draft curtains are a type of smoke curtain installed in warehouse ceilings. They attach directly to the overhead beams, making them easy to install without any remodeling. Typically made of smoke- and fire-resistant fiberglass, these curtains are designed to control smoke as it billows through the warehouse.

Although fire-resistant, the curtains are positioned high in the ceiling and generally not exposed to direct flames.

In a warehouse fire, ceiling jets – the natural air flow patterns that develop – rapidly spread smoke throughout the space, exacerbating the blaze. A draft curtain is vital for interrupting these ceiling jets, slowing and redirecting the smoke’s movement to allow for safer evacuation and fire suppression.

Draft curtains create a physical barrier that slows smoke movement and channels the ceiling jet toward a vent. This containment prevents smoke from freely spreading among the rafters, instead directing it out through roof vents.

While standard roof vents work effectively with draft curtains, installing powered exhaust fans can further enhance the safety system by actively pulling smoke up and out of the warehouse.

Advantages of Draft Curtains in Warehouses

Static Draft Curtain in WarehouseDraft curtains offer several key advantages: they effectively control smoke, easily integrate with existing systems, and have the potential to minimize property damage and injuries.

Though draft curtains alone create a physical barrier against smoke, they work most effectively when used in conjunction with other smoke control measures. Pairing a draft curtain with exhaust fans, for instance, delivers better performance than either method on its own.

Highly versatile draft curtains can be easily installed in existing warehouses. These semi-permanent additions can be quickly removed and reinstalled during renovations when access to underlying girders or beams is required.

In warehouses with sprinkler systems, draft curtains can be an effective safety measure. By redirecting ceiling air currents through roof vents and slowing smoke spread, draft curtains can delay sprinkler activation.

While sprinkler water does suppress smoke and flames, it can also inadvertently damage costly equipment.

Additionally, the water can create slippery conditions on warehouse concrete floors, posing a hazard to evacuating workers. Prolonging the time between an evacuation alarm and sprinkler deployment can help mitigate the risk of slip-and-fall injuries.

A delayed sprinkler activation allows staff sufficient time to safely move sensitive equipment without the risk of slips or falls from excessive water exposure.

While warehouses lacking a sprinkler system are uncommon, those that do utilize draft curtains as the primary means of smoke and fire safety can benefit greatly from this safeguard.

Choosing The Right Draft Curtain

To ensure maximum protection in your warehouse, opt for high-quality, reliable, and code-compliant draft curtains. When selecting curtains, choose a reputable manufacturer that meets NFPA 92 standards for smoke control systems, such as Door Systems, who offer a range of smoke and fire curtains suited for diverse industrial environments, including their Draft Curtain specifically designed for manufacturing and storage spaces like warehouses.

To accommodate the variable nature of warehouse designs, Door Systems offers custom-width draft curtains with multiple drop lengths, allowing them to be installed semi-permanently or temporarily to suit different ceiling heights. The curtains are constructed from a specialized, dual-layered glass fiber fabric that is non-combustible and fire-resistant, effectively preventing smoke passage and withstanding heat and direct flame for an extended duration.