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 can 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

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 - paul@a1shutters.co.uk - 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.”

THE OFFER IS OUT. THE A1S GROUP WILL BEAT ANY BONAFIDE BS8524 QUOTE IN THE UK IN 2018.

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.

A1S Group to Exhibit Fire Curtains and Fire Shutters at Big 5 in Dubai.

The A1S Group will be exhibiting at the Big 5 in Dubai on the 26th, 27th 28th and 29th November 2018. Mark Dougill, A1S Group Export Manager sees this must attend Regional Exhibition as the perfect opportunity to grab further market share in the UAE fire curtain and fire shutter market place. “The Big 5 is a fantastic opportunity to build on our UK success and meet prospective Distributors and Channel Partners for our Flameshield Fire Curtain and Fire Shutter range.” Recent testing success with Warrington Exova has led to a significant jump in UK market share, particularly with Supply and Install Fire Curtain Projects. “Our increased manufacturing capacity now allows us to supply our Export Partners with industry winning lead times, and that is the message I want to get across to our customers and prospective customers in the UAE,” said Mark.

Come and see us at Stand SS1 E143, Sheikh Saheed Hall no 1, next to International Fire Consultants.

Appointments can be made to discuss projects, distributorships and partnerships with Mark directly on 0044 7826598246. or markdougill@a1shutters.co.uk

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