The Fire Safety, Fire Curtain Revolution For UK Cinemas.

Did you realise that increasingly you are protected during a cinema visit by an A1S Group fire curtain? If you turn away from the screen, you will see the projector room, but there has been a sea change in many UK cinemas. What you won’t notice is a small bottom bar in the ceiling, above the glass, ready for a Flameshield fire curtain to descend on receipt of the fire alarm. The advent of IMAX and 3D Projection systems, whilst enhancing cinematic experience, led to a necessary revolution in projection room fire safety. Traditionally audiences have been protected with specialist fire rated glass between the projection room and the auditorium. Once IMAX and 3D projection systems were trialed, it became apparent that the properties of the fire rated glass distorted the picture quality. So what to do? Replace the fire rated glass with traditional float glass and compartmentalise the projection room with an A1S Group fire curtain with single stage descent. The perfect solution. To date, A1S has installed Flameshield EW 60 minute fire curtains in over 50 UK cinemas including Vue, Odeon, Everyman, Cineworld and Showcase. So if you ever watch Pulp Fiction in 3D (if only) you can rest assured, you are protected from fire in the projector room.

Fire Curtains For Cinemas

Rampant Confusion: Fire AND Smoke Curtains vs. Smoke Curtains. Which Standards Apply?

Logic doesn’t always dictate, and top of the charts within our league for confused specifications is applying the wrong British Standard for fire and smoke curtains vs smoke “only” curtains, although we would be the first to admit that the specification and standards are not particularly clear and it is readily understandable how the confusion often comes about.

The good news is that having successfully argued through the confusions with various building controls, fire strategists and quantity surveyors and with 100s of major UK projects under our belt, we feel we can clear this often made confusion up succinctly. BS 8524-2 also states,

NOTE Smoke barriers, used solely for smoke control, are covered by BS EN 12101-1. Such smoke barriers are not considered to be active fire curtain barrier assemblies within the scope of BS 8524.”

1) Fire curtain only - BS 8524-1 or EN BS 1634-1

2) Fire AND Smoke curtain (Floor to ceiling with guides) - BS 8524-1 or EN BS 1634-1 WITH EN BS 1634-3 which is the requisite air or smoke leakage test for a fire curtain. As a note, fire curtain specifiers should be aware that the rate of leakage through an active fire curtain must not exceed 3 m3/m/hr at a pressure of 25Pa when subject to a test utilising the principles of BS EN 1634-3:2004 along with the additional guidance for calculating the leakage rate provided with Annex F of BS 8524-1 2013.

The A1S Group significantly exceeded the requirements for this smoke leakage test. Because normal test specimens are fixed at a testing house (in our case Warrington Exova) with nominal structural opening sizes of 2000mm high by 2300mm wide, Annex F of BS 8524-1 provides additional guidance and assessments must be provided to specifiers to verify compliance when dimensions exceeding these sizes are required. The A1S Group holds Annex F BS 8524-1 certification to manufacture a fire curtain with smoke seals to 10000mm wide x 5630mm high whilst never exceeding the critical 3 m3/m/hr threshold.

3) Smoke Curtain (Only). The required standard is BE EN 12101-1. (As a guide, smoke curtains often will not require guides and will not descend completely to finished floor level. They are designed to channel smoke in conjunction with an HVAC system and do not provide fire integrity.

For further information on our range of Flameshield Fire Curtains, Fire and Smoke Curtains and Smoke Curtains only, please contact

The Difference Between Fire Curtains accredited to EN BS1634 and BS8524

Of course with the pricing differential between an EN BS 1634 curtain and a BS 8524 we are regularly asked what is the difference between the two relevant UK Fire Curtain standards in the UK. A recent client email via Arup pointed out the primary issue succinctly. “BS 8524 is the UK standard for an ACTIVE fire curtain.” And the active functionality and testing of a fire curtain is a good place to start if you wish to understand the differences between the two standards.

Previous to the publication of BS 8524, the only test requirements for Fire Curtains were their fire resistance and smoke control characteristics, i.e. integrity and radiation, Sa smoke classification and the now defunct insulation zone. As a company our fundamental argument was always that you can achieve the performance requirements as stipulated by Pas 121, BS 476 and EN BS 1634-1 with furnace testing, but that simply is not enough, because it is critically important to cyclic test fire curtains and smoke curtains to at least C1 Class i.e. a minimum of 500 cycles.

We are aware of test data from UK fire curtain manufacturers with non existent cyclic testing or where fabric fire curtains have been subjected to 25 manually operated and opening and closing cycles. A simple examination of the fabric, guides and poppers will often expose that the material within its build structure simply isn’t malleable enough to continually roll up and down. Yes it achieved a fire resistance rating during furnace testing, but how do you know you aren’t buying a cheap saucepan? Use it once and next time you burn your omelette. Our point is that if you have not replicated the life cycle of a fire curtain, how will you ever know that it will perform after commissioning, regular alarm inspections and mandatory servicing. You won’t. Which is why we are inundated with requests to replace non cyclic tested competitor curtains. The old adage, buy cheap buy twice comes to mind. But the proven robustness and long term performance of the product is not the only issue here. There is also an absolute requirement for this critical life safety equipment to properly function in an emergency. So difference one, a curtain to BS 8524 assures cyclic testing and thus reliability throughout the ten year plus life cycle of a fire curtain and life critical functionality in deployment situations.

Secondly BS 8524 fire curtains must pass an impact test to BS 5234-2, SD classification. BS 5234: Part 2 comprises a series of tests which examine a partition systems' suitability for a given partition duty. In the case of a fire curtain a fifty kilogram weight is swung into a central point of the curtain both before and after the cyclic test. The curtain must not leave its guides. This is purely to replicate the possibility of an individual falling or leaning into the curtain.

The third significant difference, and the part of BS 8524 that proved most difficult for manufacturers to achieve is the motor test (Annex G) to 400 degrees for thirty minutes. The issue for a fire curtain has always been once the fire breaks out, the immediate ceiling vicinity of the motor and head box will have the highest temperature. So why not replicate 400 degree conditions for 30 minutes? This is exactly what BS 8524 dictates. Only once the motor has been tested in a furnace to a minimum of 400 degrees for a minimum period of 30 minutes with a minimum of 12 cycles is it deemed to pass. And this is particularly critical for emergency services who will require the motor to still function once the access switch is activated or when the control panel is set for time delayed descent.

With the increasing use and requirement for ancillary equipment to give fire curtains additional functionality it makes sense to fully test each individual ancillary item in conjunction with the fire curtain and that is what Annex H now demands. Life safety fire curtains quite simply should not acquire additional functionality through untested bolt-ons. So whether it be egress or access switches, single or multi beam obstruction warnings, or smoke and heat detectors, a client can rest assured that the ancillary items have to be fully tested with a BS 8524 fire curtain.

Deployment speed must now test between (Vertical Curtain): ≥0.06 m/s at any height; ≤0.15 m/s below 2 m (Horizontal Curtain) : ≥0.06 m/s at any height; ≤0.3 m/s below 2 m. Too slow and the requisite integrity will not be achieved in a timely manner, too fast and the fire curtain is a danger to those under it.

For further information on A1S Group range of BS 8524-1 Fire Curtains and BS 8524-2 Installation, please contact or call 01204 383839

A1S Group to launch 30th Anniversary BS 8524 Fire Curtain and Fire and Smoke Curtain Offer

With a 2018 investment of over £120,000 in research, development, production capacity, and a challenging but finally successful testing programme to BS 8524 with Warrington Exova, the A1S Group is to announce a 30th anniversary offer to capitalise on the increased requirement for fire curtains and fire and smoke curtains to the now often mandatory British Standard BS 8524-1.

With the stipulation in BS 9999 2017 that fire curtains and fire and smoke curtains should be tested in accordance with BS 8524-1 and installed to BS 8524-2, fire curtains are now designed to better withstand the rigours of real life applications, with an increased emphasis on durability, cyclic testing, surface spread of flame, impact testing and a motor that has been furnace tested to 400 degrees to exacting standards.

Documented specification standards now ensure that both integrity and radiation performance is considered and attention to substrate and parameter guidelines is much more transparent. Head of A1S Group Sales Paul Caldwell-Jones - - has seen a significant improvement in the wider fire industry understanding of fire curtain performance.

“Since the publication of BS 8524-1 and BS 8524-2, and its comprehensive guidance for the specification, testing, production and installation of fire curtain and smoke curtains I have seen enhanced product understanding from Fire Engineers and Quantity Surveyors. Mercifully, the days of being asked for a fire curtain or fire and smoke curtain, without a fire strategy report or an explanation of relevant fire resistance requirements and site specific conditions, are becoming if not a distant memory, at least rarer. BS 8524-1 and BS 8524-2 are certainly helping move the wider construction industry towards a fuller understanding of life safety fire curtains and as part of our 30th anniversary, our A1S Group marketing team will be launching a pricing offer for bonafide BS 8524 projects with accredited fire strategy reports.”


Best Price, Best Lead Time, Compliance Guaranteed.

Call Us Today and Find Out Why The A1S Group will give your UK supply and installation project the winning quotation with Fire Curtains and Fire and Smoke Curtains to BS 8524.