A fire breaking out in any industrial or commercial premises can be a disaster. With possibly thousands of pounds worth of equipment and stock at stake, not to mention priceless lives, the best thing you can do for your fire prevention strategy is to install fire shutters.
Any place where flammable materials are handled or stored can benefit from fire shutters. They stay hidden until triggered by a fire alarm or heat sensor to drop closed, sealing off the area with the fire to prevent it from spreading to the next area, or at least slowing it down. If you decide to install them, you should use reliable fire inspection software to keep track of the maintenance schedule.
If you’re wondering whether you should invest in fire shutters for your building, here are five benefits to help you understand why your premises should have them.
1) Complying with fire safety regulations
Legal compliance is crucial for businesses who want to keep everything above board – if you ignore building regulations, your business could be operating illegally, and you could receive huge fines or even have your business shut down for good.
When it comes to fire safety, equipment like fire shutters needs to be extensively tested and rated during the manufacturing process. If it doesn’t pass the standard tests, it can’t be sold or installed as a fire shutter, because it won’t be fit for purpose.
Then, once it’s been standardised and released for sale, it needs to be fitted according to another set of standards. Once installed, you also have to follow further regulations for testing and maintenance. It can quickly get confusing, but when it’s done right, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a legally compliant fire shutter.
Keeping up with these standards means that in an emergency, you can rely on your fire shutter to protect yourself, your people, and your property.
2) Industrial-grade fire protection
Galvanised steel fire shutters are designed to compartmentalise a fire to keep it from spreading throughout a building. They hold back toxic gases and provide radiant heat protection to allow anyone nearby to escape before the fire reaches that area.
These shutters can withstand the heat of flames for a minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour, while thicker doors can last up to 4 hours. This gives anyone in the building time to evacuate safely after the fire alarm is activated, with every minute making a difference in saving lives.
The fire shutter will contain the spread of the fire for as long as possible, also limiting the damage caused by flames and smoke to your property. Firefighters and other emergency services will have more time to get there and put the fire out before it gets out of control.
The less the fire and toxic fumes can spread, the less damage it can do, which also makes recovery and clean-up after the incident much easier and less expensive.
3) Extra security for your property
While internal fire shutters tend to stay hidden, rolled up out of sight until they’re triggered to action by a fire, it’s also possible to install fire shutters externally. They can double as security shutters for access points like loading bays in warehouses, factories, and shops.
As they’re manufactured to be robust enough to withstand fire, you can be sure that these roller shutters are also strong enough to endure the impact of forced entry attempts, as they’re tougher than standard shutter doors. Of course, you need to make sure they’re specified for both fire protection and theft protection before using them in this way.
These shutters can be rolled down and secured when the premises aren’t in use. If a fire were to start inside while the property was empty, it would be contained – and if vandals attempted to break in or start a fire outside, the shutter would protect the building.
This way, as many of your essential possessions and documents as possible are kept safe from fire damage, theft, and vandalism.
4) Selection of systems and designs
Just like standard roller shutters, there are different operating systems and various design styles to choose from when you order fire shutters. Of course, there are also different fire integrity ratings, with most shutters rated E30, E60, E120, or E240 for minutes of fire resistance.
Depending on the type of fire shutter, it may automatically roll closed as soon as the fire alarm is activated anywhere in the building. Or, if you need the route to stay open for evacuation for as long as possible, the shutter can be programmed to only drop halfway closed.
This is often the better option, as it prevents fumes and smoke from spreading at ceiling height but still lets people escape through the gap if needed. This type of fire shutter will only fully close when a heat sensor detects an excessive temperature, alerting it that the flames are likely nearby.
Even if you have interior fire shutters, which stay hidden most of the time, the box that houses the rolled-up shutter will still be visible. It’s possible to get a powder-coated finish for roller shutters and their housings to match the aesthetics of your business, as well as the bespoke shutters being made-to-measure to precisely fit the openings you need them to cover.
5) Easy operation, low maintenance
Since fire shutters are usually automated, whether they’re connected to existing fire alarm systems or act as a stand-alone system, manual operation isn’t needed. These shutters will self-close the way they’re programmed to, with fail-safes in place in case of loss of power.
When they’re rolled up out of the way and out of view, fire shutters are discreet, and won’t hinder your business operations at all. Even if you have an exterior fire shutter that’s regularly opened and closed like a standard shutter, it will be easy to operate. You can choose a high-speed automated door for ultimate efficiency, so the door opens and closes quickly.
Some fire shutters can even be operated or activated remotely if required. They’re a reliable, durable, space-saving solution that gives you peace of mind in an emergency – and they don’t require much maintenance, either. Simply follow the usage instructions to prevent damaging the shutter, clean it regularly, and it should continue to work well.
The only maintenance a fire shutter really needs is a professional servicing twice a year, when its functionality can be re-certified for continued use. If the inspector identifies a problem, you can have it fixed and restored, knowing it will work as it should if there is a fire. This is a legal requirement under Regulation 5 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
Does your business need fire shutters?
Uncontained fires can rapidly grow out of control, spreading from the source until they engulf entire buildings. Fire shutters are a necessary measure in buildings where this type of large fire could be a high risk, such as factories, warehouses, and commercial premises.
Limiting the destruction caused by a fire saves lives, plus the money and time needed to get your business up and running again afterwards. Fire shutters make a massive difference to fire detection and prevention plans, so don’t risk not installing them and paying for it later.
If you aren’t sure whether your building needs fire shutters, or where to install them, you should carry out a full fire assessment of your property and seek professional advice.
When you’re ready to have your shutters fitted, consult an established supplier of roller shutters in Liverpool (or wherever your business is based). They can help you to design custom fire shutters that meet all of your needs, and may even provide ongoing maintenance services, too.