JR Clancy Rigging Report – Powered Fire Curtains

JR Clancy Rigging Report

JR Clancy just released their latest Rigging Report and it has to do with some big changes made to Powered Fire Curtains standards. There are two new fire curtain standards in force, and both of them require powered operation for many more curtains than in the past.

NFPA 80 Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, 2007 Edition

  • The standard requires that all framed fire curtains be power operated, as well as brail and straight lift curtains in proscenium openings greater than 850 sq. ft.
  • The standard also specifies that “the fire safety curtain assembly shall be closed at all times except when there is an event, rehearsal, or similar activity.

American National Standard E1.22 – 2009 Entertainment Technology Fire Safety Curtain Systems

  • This standard specifies that “non-emergency opening and closing shall be powered except straight lift unframed fire safety curtain systems for proscenium openings less than 925 sq. ft. shall be permitted to be unpowered.”  Note that all framed and all brail curtains must be powered.
  • It also specifies that “all fire safety curtains shall be in the closed position except during events with an audience, rehearsals, technical production activity, or activities on stage that necessitate the curtain be open.”

What Does It Mean?

  1. Fewer fire safety curtains are being mandated in theaters because of advancements in sprinkler systems.
  2. When fire safety curtains are required, there is an increased mandate that they actually perform correctly.  This means an increased requirement for design, installation, testing, and routine inspection by “qualified” professionals.
  3. The requirement for closing curtains during unoccupied times provides additional protection to the theater and does so faster in case of a fire.  It also provides another way of checking the operation of fire curtains routinely.
  4. Powered curtains are easy to raise and lower, making it more likely users will close the fire curtain when the theatre is not in use.

What About The Future?

  1. You’ll need to see if the local building code, project specifications, or architect require conformance to either of these standards.
  2. Expect building codes and insurance companies to require the requirement to keep safety curtains closed.
  3. A 925 square foot opening (850 sq. ft. under NFPA 80) is not very large (46 ft. x 21 ft. for example) so expect to see the majority of all fire curtains being powered in the future.