What is the Difference Between a Fire Barrier and a Smoke Barrier?

Fire and smoke barriers play an important role in passive smoke management systems. They are both designed to restrict the smoke spread and clear evacuation routes.

Smoke barriers are vertical walls that prevent smoke from spreading between rooms in a building. They are required to have a fire-resistance rating of at least one hour.

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Fire Barriers

Fire barriers are one of the primary ways to protect a building against fire and smoke. They prevent the spread of fire and allow occupants to escape. The fire barrier can be a wall, floor, ceiling, or other structural elements.

Depending on the type of structure, the International Building Code (IBC) has different rating requirements for fire barriers and partitions. For example, in the case of office buildings, firewalls must have a minimum one-hour fire resistance rating. However, in other situations, such as shopping malls, a firewall may need a four-hour fire resistance rating.

In addition to the fire-resistance rating, fire barriers must also have a structural integrity that allows them to maintain their effectiveness in the event of collapse or damage to either side. It is important because it helps ensure that the building remains stable and safe for occupants to work in.

Another important thing to know about fire barriers is that they must be constructed of materials that meet the combustibility provisions of the building code for their particular construction. It means that if you need to separate dwelling units, tenant spaces, or corridors in a commercial building, the walls must be made of materials such as gypsum board or cement board.

These materials are not as strong as drywall or steel, so they are more susceptible to being blown away by high winds. They also don’t last as long as other types of construction material, so you should be careful when choosing what type of fire protection system to use in your building.

If you need help determining the right type of fire barrier for your project, the sgspecialties.com/blog/smoke-barrier-vs-smoke-curtain team can provide expert guidance on what will best suit your needs. Their experts can also guide you through selecting a system that will keep your occupants safe and comply with current codes.

When it comes to fire barriers and smoke curtains, the terms are often used interchangeably, but they serve different purposes. While both systems can stop the spread of smoke and delay evacuation, they are very different installations that need to be installed in specific building areas.

Smoke Barriers

A smoke barrier is a continuous construction assembly designed and constructed to achieve a specific fire resistance rating. It must be continuous from the floor-ceiling assembly below to the underside of the floor or roof sheathing, deck, or slab above, including continuity through concealed spaces, such as suspended ceiling assemblies and interstitial structural and mechanical spaces.

To keep smoke from passing through penetrations in a wall, it must be sealed airtight, and any doorway must be flame resistant for at least 20 minutes. Additionally, any penetrations necessary for HVAC systems or other utilities must be protected with dampers that automatically close if smoke is detected.

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Smoke Curtain

A smoke curtain, also known as a smoke partition, is a fire-rated, flexible, compartmentalized barrier that provides smoke and fire separations for corridors and elevator lobbies. They are a great option for areas that do not need fire-rated but still need the protection of a smoke barrier.

In addition to offering a flexible, compartmentalized design and a 2-hour fire-resistance rating, smoke curtains from Smoke Guard offer many benefits. They can be easily installed, deployed, and withdrawn to seal openings and create smoke compartments.

They are also often used to block hallways, elevator lobbies, and other openings. Their fire-resistance ratings, easy installation, and reusable design make them an ideal solution for various applications.

Fire Partitions

Regarding the differences between fire barriers and partitions, the International Building Code (IBC) provides clear definitions. It says that a fire barrier must have a one-hour fire rating, while a fire partition must have a 30-minute or higher fire resistance rating.

In most cases, these ratings are based on the type of occupancies housed in the building and whether or not it is equipped with a fire sprinkler system. However, some exceptions can allow for a longer hourly rating.

For example, a fire barrier in a residential building might require a four-hour rating, while a fire partition might only need to have a one-hour fire rating. The IBC also distinguishes between a fire barrier separating two areas and a fire partition separating three areas.

A fire partition can be made of various materials, including brick, wood, cement board, and metal. It can be either vertical or horizontal, depending on its specific applications.

Some materials are more resistant to fire than others, but they all have the same basic properties that make them ideal for fire protection. For example, stainless steel partitions are known for resisting fire and smoke. These are often used in commercial and industrial settings because of their durability and easy cleanability.