Does Your Facility Need Flame-Rated Industrial Curtain Walls?

By: Mark Deutsch

If your facility is using industrial curtains to separate different areas or workspaces, it’s important to know whether they are flame-rated. Likewise, if you’re considering implementing a curtain wall system in your location, you’ll want to research the options available to you as well as your specific use for them, in order to determine whether you’ll need flame-rated curtains or not.

Dividing Workspace Using Curtains Vs. Permanent Walls

Curtain walls are an economical solution to creating different areas within a larger facility for different projects, and can be a flexible and durable option. They’re a less-expensive way to create different work enclosures in a building, and since they can be retracted or moved easily, they’re a more versatile option as well. One valuable feature is that they are flame-rated, much the same as interior walls are. Installation is quick and easy, and these curtains can contain loud noises, debris and dust, when fabricated for that application.

What Industries Can Benefit from Flame-rated Curtains?

It would be a disservice to list only a few industries that would benefit from fireproof curtains, as a fire can happen in virtually any location, and in the event of an emergency, flame-rating a section is better than a situation that is left completely unprotected. That being said, there are a few industries where fire may be more likely than others, and therefore flame-resistance should be seen as more of a necessity rather than an option when choosing industrial curtains. Industries like the auto industry or other businesses that perform a lot of welding or soldering—anything where sparks can fly or have flammable materials on location—should consider only using flame-rated curtains as opposed to curtains that are not flame-resistant. In the event of an emergency, this forethought can be the difference between property damage and property being destroyed.

Flame-rated curtains are especially useful when it comes to employee safety, as they can shield workers from welding arc, flash burns and sparks. If your business works with metal fabrication, durable goods manufacturing, or metal cutting and welding, consider installing flame-rated curtains to help protect your employees and improve their work environment and conditions.

What Renders These Curtains Flame-rated?

Some of the fabrics used for creating high temperature – flame resistant curtains include silicone-coated fiberglass, slag shed fiberglass, vermiculite-coated fiberglass, and fire-proof or flame-resistant vinyl.  At AmCraft, we use 18oz. fire retardant vinyl polyester, mesh and fabric coated flame-rated materials. We also offer lighter weight materials for applications that do not need as much fire resistance.

The reason that the above listed materials can be classified as flame-rated is that they do not support flame. There are different degrees of flame rating. On the lighter, less stringent end of the specter, a material will burn when an independent source of flame is applied and self-extinguish when that independent source of flame is removed.

On the other side of the flame-rating spectrum, some material will not ignite even with an independent source of flame directly applied. The authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) reviewing your situation is your best source of an accurate assessment and recommendation of the flame rating you will need for compliance.

When you’re debating using industrial curtains, be sure to consider the benefits that flame-rating options offer—keeping your employees safe is a concern, but so is protecting your property and facility in the event of an emergency. When something is as easy as choosing a curtain that’s been manufactured for safety, why not select that option?

 

A Creative Way to Boost Insulation Value with Industrial Thermal Curtains

As we move into a cooler time of year, many of you will start to focus on the temperature in your facility. Typically an HVAC technician is called in to check up on furnaces, heating vents are unblocked, and additional insulation may be added to existing walls and ceilings. Another option for assisting with insulating your facility, especially if it is an industrial facility, are industrial thermal curtains. These are industrial curtain walls with insulation inside of them. These thermal industrial curtains can assist with beefing up the insulation level of an entire facility, or sectioning off certain areas for additional insulation. Additionally, these thermal curtain walls can be moved if need be, or taken down when cold temperatures let up; two benefits that traditional insulation options don’t typically boast.

Insulated Industrial Curtain

As an example of the potential effectiveness of these thermal insulated curtains, a test study was done. A customer in Texas has utilized our 1” insulated curtains, with an R value of 4, in a cold room for food storage. This facility cools the entire room down to 40 Degrees Fahrenheit when they have larger amounts of product to store. When they do not need the whole room, they divide the room with the 1” thermal insulated curtain. They shut the HVAC off on one side of the room, allowing the temperature on this side to heat. The temperature can reach as high as 70-80 Degrees Fahrenheit when not cooled down. The curtain divides the 80 Degree side of the room from the 40 Degree side of the room.
This application utilized the curtain, a filler panel, Velcro on the side edges, and a floor sweep on the bottom, so that the curtain is completely sealed. The customer’s feedback is that between the curtain and their HVAC system, they are able to maintain the two different temperature zones. They do not experience condensation forming on the curtain.

The insulation value of thermal insulated curtain walls is measured by what is called an R value. R value, as defined by standard ASTM C168, is:
“Resistance, thermal, n: the quantity determined by the temperature difference, at steady state, between two defined surfaces of a material or construction that induces a unit heat flow through a unit area.”
Basically, R value measures the resistance to heat transfer across/through a given barrier. The higher the number attached to the R value, the greater the barriers resistance to heat flow is.

Thermal curtain systems can boast a variety of different R value, each of which can be tailored to meet a customer’s needs. While thermal industrial curtains can be a great tool to effectively contain heated or cooled air, it is recommended that you consult an HVAC technician in order to make certain your enclosed area will render the desired net result. This will assist with confirming that your heating or cooling system has the capacity to deliver a sufficient volume of air heated or cooled to a reasonably higher/lower temperature that is required inside of your enclosure. The thermal curtains alone cannot be responsible for the net effectiveness of the enclosure/curtain system if this is not effectively addressed with available equipment upgrades, if necessary.

When installed properly and used within their means, thermal insulated curtains can be a highly effective tool for maintaining temperature within a facility. The thermal curtain wall professionals at AmCraft Manufacturing can guide you through the process of selecting the best curtain solution for your facility and provide expert advice on how to best insulate or divide your facility. Contact AmCraft today!

Flame Resistant PVC Vinyl for Industrial Curtain Walls

AmCraft manufactures many of our flexible products using flame resistant pvc vinyl materials that meet one or more of the most widely used flame rating requirements. Since many flame ratings vary and are dictated by the governing fire authorities, we urge you to check with your local fire authority to determine if you will need fire proof vinyl, flame resistant vinyl or flame retardant vinyl material in the manufacture of your product.

Our 18 oz fire retardant vinyl polyester, mesh and fabric coated materials are a heavy weight that can handle heat and stress. These are typically used in applications such as safety protection in construction work sites, fire and police safety applications, gymnasiums, and industrial work zones to name a few. Many materials are water proof or water resistant as well, in case the application is used outdoors. We also offer 13 oz flame retardant materials for more light weight applications.

The questions you will need to ask local fire authorities are:
1.) What is the minimal flame rating for soft goods (ie: vinyl, coated fabrics, etc.) that is needed to meet local fire code compliance?
2.) How must an industrial curtain and/or panel system interface with a sprinkler system or fire suppression system?
3.) Before installation of a curtain and track system are there any other issues that need to meet safety code requirements?
Our Typical Flame Ratings are:
Meets MIL Spec C – 43 006 B
NFPA- 701
ASTM E- 84 (Class A)
6P and C.P.S.I.A (7P) certified
Meets or Exceeds CSFM
Treated with DuraGuard (EPA registered anti-microbial agent)
Lead Levels below 100 ppm

We offer a variety of material options and can provide you with flame certification and documentation should you need to supply that information to the fire authority. Call us and ask to speak to a technical sales representative or our engineering department for recommendations before you commit to a particular material.