HAPPY HALLOWEEN. REALLY?

12 weeks 2 days until Halloween. That’s guaranteed. 12  weeks 2 days to BREXIT. That certainly isn’t guaranteed. And even if we are to believe Bojo’s declaration that we will be out by the 31st October, there is no certainty that the Backstop will be resolved, and we end up with an orderly BREXIT and there is no certainty that Parliament will allow a disorderly BREXIT, which could well mean an Autumn election. So, what to do? How do we work out your pricing for fire curtains and fire shutters when we are reliant on a European supply chain for key componentry? Our Flameshield Fire Curtains tested to BS 8524-1 have control panels and motors which are especially reliant on our German friends. And will the ports be so chaotic that lead times go out of the window?

Certainly, the markets are factoring in the uncertainty and the financial rumour mill tends toward an ever-depreciating pound. Technical articles predicting Pound Euro parity or lower abound. Last weekend saw another flurry from analysts. The last month does not exactly look pretty from an exchange rate point of view. Surely 10 per cent plus price rises are imminent?

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But then again didn’t the markets get Brexit wrong? Didn’t they expect a May majority in the 2017 General Election, and so much for my well-placed friend in Philadelphia who said “You can put your house on  Pennsylvania going with Hilary, and without Penn State, Trump cannot possibly get in.” Well it was close, 0.76% to be precise, but the point is, he was wrong, the markets were wrong and the rest as they say is history.

 And if the markets can’t be trusted, (although it is about time that they called a political event correctly), and the only certainty is uncertainty we have decided to leave anything quoted in 2019 as is. At the moment that is. All of our Flameshield fire curtain and fire shutter, quotations leave the office with the caveat “All prices quoted are exclusive of VAT and are open for acceptance for a period of 30 days.” The 30 day rule is not something we tend to enforce that rigorously, given that our construction partners need some stability with their pricing and that the average duration from tender to order is six months.

Of course you can secure your price definitively just in case we are forced to change our minds, by placing an order now rather than later. We may even be able to give you an additional MCD for projects placed before the end of August. Just ask, we won’t be offended. paul@a1shutters.co.uk

Back to Halloween, and we probably have a couple of other things to consider. The two largest exporters of pumpkins globally are China with 28.7% and India with 19.7%. The Russians are third. Obviously I am not going to be so impolite and reiterate that none of these countries are in the EU, but it is worth noting the pound is plummeting against the Yuan, the Rupee and the Rouble. Dominos are stockpiling pineapples. Maybe we should definitely order our fire curtains early and learn how to carve out potatoes or home grown turnips. I am just saying….

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 paul@a1shutters.co.uk

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 enquiries@a1shutters.co.uk or call 01204 383839