Regardless of where the elevator is located, one of the biggest risks when being inside one is during the event of a fire, as the elevator shaft will act as a chimney and will absorb smoke at an incredibly quick pace.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, smoke inhalation is more likely to be the cause of death rather than the fire itself. In commercial properties especially, many people will come and go, which creates additional risk and danger when those people are looking for an exit during a fire evacuation.
The worries around being trapped in such a small space are a cause for concern. How will you be able to breathe? What if the elevator doors are partly stuck and smoke is able to filter through? Smoke and fire curtains are a great way to protect elevators and people from the spread of smoke or fire and the damage it causes.
The evolution of smoke and fire curtains
The initial purpose of an elevator is to provide an easy travel solution between floors. When an emergency occurs, elevators serve an essential role where the International Building Code is concerned. The IBC has strict guidelines that an elevator must follow. Chapter 10 under section 1003.7 calls for elevators to be used only as an ‘’accessible means of egress in accordance with section 1009.4’’.
After the conclusion that elevators are the fastest cause of smoke spreading throughout a building, the IBC and other fire regulation organisations produced these guidelines to prevent further tragedies from happening.
Coopers’ fire curtains with smoke control offer integrity against fire and prevent the spread of smoke to other floors when used over elevator doors or in lobbies. FireMaster fire curtains with smoke control can be used over individual elevator doors or form virtual cost-effective elevator lobbies. Ensuring open-plan lobbies and elevator doors meet requirements is key when running a building that utilises elevators.
Why are smoke and fire curtains the best solution?
Fire extinguishers, fire alarms, sprinklers, and smoke detectors are all products that a building needs to meet the minimum requirements for fire safety – all of them are essential for protection and they can ensure a fire is prevented or stopped before it spreads further.
However, in bigger buildings, the amount of fire protection required is substantial. Without a fire extinguisher and sprinkler at hand in each location, you create the risk of not being able to utilise them when needed – ensuring equipment is available in each area comes at a cost.
Often, many buildings may not be able to provide fire protection equipment in elevators due to their small size and the possibility of them being misused – causing damage to the elevator before a fire has even occurred. With a lack of equipment available, a fire could seriously harm the space, surroundings, and people who could be inside.
Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, International Fire Buyer
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922