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Fire safety curtains include many different components. One of the most common, yet most confusing, is the bumper. Also known as a yield pad, a bumper is a heavy lower section of the curtain that presses down as the curtain falls, coming into close contact with the ground. It effectively provides a seal that prevents the passage of gasses, smoke, flames and heat.
Stages, arenas and other large public spaces often employ specialty safety devices to keep fires from spreading. Although it’d be nice if extinguishing equipment were able to completely smother all blazes, this isn’t always possible, especially in the time it takes people to evacuate. Fire safety curtains, large barriers which drop down quickly to seal in fires, are the best way to limit the spread of such blazes.
What confuses most building owners is the ambiguity over whether or not their fabric fire safety curtains need to have bumpers installed. NFPA 80 is mostly clear on this aspect of fire safety. It states that bumpers should be installed somewhere in all fire curtain devices.
The ambiguity arises from the fact that some fire curtain frames have room for bumpers on separate sheets of flame-resistant material. These do not need additional bumpers installed on the main curtain itself. In short, you absolutely do need a bumper, but its positioning depends on the type of fire curtain arrangement you have.
Other requirements for fabric fire safety curtains are detailed in NFPA 80. It states that the fabric materials used in your curtain must have a certain tensile strength and appropriate high-heat coatings. If they are painted, the paint has to be flame resistant as well. Other regulations state that your fabric ought to use a certain type of lock stitch on all edges and flame resistant thread materials.
Of course, these are only a few of the applicable rules. Hundreds of others go on to regulate the construction of frames, hanging device rules and operating mechanism test periods. In the end, the best thing to do is get your fire curtain plan approved by a fire protection firm before you begin to build. This same firm should also help you with routine inspections, making it easier to keep your building safety code-compliant.