FireMaster: Invisible protection

Coopers Fire, the company behind the Gravity Fail Safe Fire Curtain launched 30 years ago and adopted worldwide, has engineered the world's first fire curtain suitable for air cleanliness of ISO Class 6

Fire and smoke curtains are popular safety solutions for a wide range of buildings, from retail and residential to office and manufacturing facilities.

These components, however, have been unable to meet the rigorous requirements for cleanrooms, until now. Since its November debut, FireMaster Cleanroom is proving to be a game-changer in cleanroom design.

A brainchild of British manufacturer Coopers Fire, the FireMaster Cleanroom is deemed the world’s first active fire curtain certified as suitable for cleanroom environments.

“Engineered to offer two hours of fire resistance, the FireMaster Cleanroom safety curtain offers designers of cleanrooms the flexibility to help create open plan environments already afforded to more traditional manufacturing facilities,” explains Jonathan Brown, Marketing and Customer Service Manager at Coopers Fire.

Cleanrooms can be very large controlled environments, containing entire manufacturing facilities across several factory floors covering thousands of square metres, and yet they require fire compartmentation.

Fire curtains give designers a modern alternative to non-loading bearing firewalls, fire doors and fire-rated glazing, accommodating open plan environments that are compliant with fire legislation.

Automatic shield

Once installed, fire curtain barriers remain invisible, retracted until activated by an alarm or detector signal, at which time they descend safely to their operational position.

“Fire curtains can be used to protect plant areas and production facilities where multiple individual machines are operated by a limited number of operators,” Brown says, adding that they can also protect production line fire breakpoints, openings from one building to another where conveyor belts and tracks pass through, service and goods lift openings, roof lights and wells and offer building boundary protection.

IPA and ISO certification

Coopers Fire developed the FireMaster Cleanroom working with nPro, a global cleanroom design studio headquartered in the UK. The project aimed to create a fire curtain suitable for use in a cleanroom environment offering two hours of fire resistance.

Manufactured from 316L grade stainless steel, the FireMaster Cleanroom carries a curtain that does not release particles in operation and features side guides that can be manually opened and closed for cleaning.

Materials resistant to harsh cleanroom cleaning chemicals were chosen to manufacture the product. Brown explains: “The FireMaster Cleanroom can be fully deep cleaned while onsite in accordance with ISO 2812 (Paints and varnishes - Determination of resistance to liquids).”

Proven to be cleanroom-ready, the FireMaster Cleanroom bears the IPA Fraunhofer Tested Device seal of approval. The product is certified as suitable for use in cleanrooms fulfilling the specifications of air cleanliness Class 6 according to ISO 14644-1. It has a Class C rating under the pharmaceutical industry’s Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and is rated at 1,000 under US Federal standard 209E.

The chemical resistance of the curtain and headbox and side guides is tested according to ISO 4628-1. It is fire tested to BS EN 13501-2:2007+A1:2009 to provide an Integrity rating of E120 and EW120 for radiation.

New build and retrofit

Built to operate as a ‘plug and play’ system, the FireMaster Cleanroom features a compact, low power consumption control unit with a complete range of incorporated ancillary control options. Easy to install, the system also features a ‘self-test’ facility, enabling it to monitor its performance.

Designed without room controls and accessories, it is suitable for both retrofit and new build installations. Brown explains: “FireMaster Cleanroom fire curtains can be used to replace fire rated walls and doors allowing for open plan designs and to protect non-fire rated walls and glazing and openings in walls. As such, they can be used to protect escape routes providing time for people
to escape. The FireMaster Cleanroom can also offer property, equipment and external boundary protection.”

The FireMaster Cleanroom builds on Coopers' innovative acumen. The company patented the Gravity Fail Safe Fire Curtain 30 years ago, a technology that has been adopted worldwide. Its latest launch lands on the market at a time when the number of industries that need cleanrooms to protect products and/or workers from airborne contaminants continues to grow, offering a flexible solution to improve fire safety, without compromising manufacturing efficiencies.

N.B. This article is featured in the March 2019 issue of Cleanroom Technology.