When it comes to suppressing the spread of fire, fire shutters are invaluable. Thanks to their robust structures, not only do they help minimise the spread of fire, they help save lives, lower insurance premiums, satisfy fire risk assessments and provide high levels of security.
There are two main types of fire shutters, tubular motor and conventional inline fire shutters. However, SSS Industrial Doors can also offer a unique product which has been tested and verified to self-close in the event of a power failure. This unique fire shutter is referred to as a ‘gravity fail-safe fire shutter’. What are the differences between the types of fire shutters you can choose from?
Tubular motor fire shutter
This fire shutter is manufactured with a single-phase motor internally fitted to the barrel, and it is designed to be smaller: ideal for applications with limited space and size. It operates through a powered-down device that requires a battery backup or mains supply to function. A tubular motor fire shutter is supplied with a UPS-FDI panel to receive a volt-free signal from the fire alarm to close on activation.
Gravity fail-safe tubular motor fire shutter
Unlike typical tubular motor systems, a gravity fail-safe tubular motor fire shutter is manufactured with an internal 24DC volt brake that is electrically powered in the ‘close’ position. The key feature of this type of fire shutter is how it operates in the event of a power failure. Should power supply be compromised, this fire shutter will begin a gravity-controlled descent, compartmentalising a building and preventing the spread of fire.
This unique type of fire shutter provides an additional fail-safe, ensuring that it still operates as intended and activates even when components of the fire shutter have been compromised. Additionally, with a gravity fail-safe motor being smaller than a conventional tubular motor, you benefit from the ability to manufacture the fire shutters to smaller sizes.
This product is ideal for serving hatches in kitchens, where the fire shutter must close in the event of a fire.
Inline (external motor) fire shutter
A conventional fire shutter previously was operated by a external motor system, this is referred to as an inline fire shutter due to the motor being inline with the plate wheel and barrel. These fire shutters can be manufactured with either a single-phase or three-phase motor that is fitted externally to the coil casing and chain-driven. These types of fire shutters are often used for larger applications. They can link with an auto-solenoid release and fusible backup. However, on single-phase applications, they can also be accompanied with a battery backup system. That being said, power is not required for these shutters to activate in the event of fire; this is due to the shutter being in the ‘open’ position, allowing it to make a controlled descent when the thermal, fusible link is triggered.
GFA UK Ltd offers an inline fire shutter motor which has achieved and been verified as a ‘pass’ by a notified body for the essential characteristic (AVCP 1) ‘Durability to be released’. This motor has an Actuator and will release the drive brake to allow the door to close by a controlled descent (similar to our gravity fail-safe tubular motor fire shutter).
Take advantage of powder-coating when choosing a fire shutter, matching them to the rest of your premises. You can choose from a range of colours, or opt for standard galvanised steel.
Varied fire rating levels
Fire shutters are available in several fire rating levels, measured by the protection time they will provide in the event of a fire. This measurement directly relates to the time that the fire shutter can safely contain a fire before it will spread, causing major damage to the building. These fire rating levels typically range from:
- One Hour Fire Protection (E60 Integrity Rating)
- Ninety Minutes Fire Protection – Timber only (E90 Integrity Rating)
- Two Hour Fire Protection (E120 Integrity Rating)
- Four Hour Fire Protection: (E240 Integrity Rating)
Can a fire shutter be installed on any supporting structure?
It is not possible for a manufacturer to supply a fire shutter to an alternative structural type than that which was tested. Due to the structural type reacting differently whilst under fire conditions, the Extended Application Report (BS EN 15269-10) clearly states on section J.1.2 that changing the structural type from a ‘rigid’ structure to a ‘flexible’ structure is “not possible without additional testing”.
Depending on what you are fixing your fire shutter to, it may be a ‘rigid’ (masonry/steel) or a ‘flexible’ (timber/drywall) structure. Prior to purchasing your fire shutter, you must ensure that the manufacturer is aware of the structural type. This is very important, as all fire shutter manufacturers must not only hold a certificate for BS EN 16034:2014, but also the additional testing data for a flexible structure (Section J.1.2 of BS EN 15269-10). If a manufacturer has successfully tested and is fully certified to both structural types, they will be able to provide this evidence. Failure to provide this additional testing documentation is evidence of a non-compliant product and does not comply with The Building Regulations 2010 – Document B.
It is a mandatory requirement to attain additional testing data. The contractor, installer and manufacturer are liable if a fire shutter is installed to a structural type which has not been tested by a notified body.
At SSS Industrial Doors, we are fully tested and certified from a UK notified body to fit to both structural types; we possess the documentation to prove it.
Who needs a fire shutter?
Under UK law, the government advises that large buildings, particularly those in commercial and industrial sectors, should separate areas with extensive catering facilities from other buildings where possible (such as kitchens or areas with cooking equipment). If these areas are inside other buildings, they must be separated; this is usually where fire shutters are installed to partition these areas in the event of a fire. The government also states that they must be able to operate both by fusible link and manually.
Whether you are a large or small business owner, all kinds of commercial properties – warehouses, shops, offices and industrial complexes – benefit from fire shutters. They not only help tick off fire risk assessment checklists and abide by government regulations, they also offer a life-saving system when it comes to the unfortunate event of a fire. They double up as great security shutters and can partition off high-risk areas to help contain fires, increasing evacuation times for staff and visitors.
Unsure as to what type of fire shutter you need? Contact our fire shutter and industrial door experts today.