Smoke Barriers and Partitions, Types of smoke barriers and partitions

Smoke barriers and partitions speaks to types of smoke barriers and partitions are required in certain institutional occupancies such as hospitals and prisons, where occupants are unable to leave the building in case of fire.

This type of wall divides floors of buildings in such a way that occupants may take refuge in case of fire by moving to the side of the smoke barrier that is away from the fire without having to exit the building.

A smoke barrier is a one hour rated partition that is continuous from one side of the building to the other and from the top of a floor slab on the floor above. It must be sealed at all edges. Penetrations for air ducts must be protected with dampers that close automatically if smoke is detected in the air.

Other penetrations, such as those for pipes and conduits, must be sealed airtight. Doors through smoke barriers are necessary to allow movement of people in case of fire. They must be close fitting, without grilles and louvers and must close automatically.

A smoke partition is a wall constructed, like a smoke barrier to resist the passage of smoke, but without any fire resistance rating. For example, when walls for corridors and elevator lobbies need not be fire rated, they are constructed as smoke partitions.

Many of the partitions in a building neither bear a structural load nor are required as fire separation walls. These may be made of any material that meets the combustibility provisions of the building code for the selected type of construction.

Smoke barrier considerations:

The ICC International Building Code and NFPA 101 state that many different types of facilities must have fire barriers, smoke partitions and smoke barriers.

Fire Barriers

These must be provided for vertical openings as found in shafts or hoistways and for building exits including stairs and passages, separate varied occupancy and to separate hazardous areas.

Smoke Barriers

These are provided when hazardous area separation is required and this area is fire sprinkler protected. Smoke barriers, with the exception of some atrium separation walls, are required to be fire resistance-rated and constructed in the same manner as fire barriers. Essentially, smoke barriers are fire barriers with some added levels of protection to mitigate smoke migration.

Smoke Partitions

A smoke partition does not have to be rated as fire resistant and the purpose is to impede smoke from spreading from a hazardous area which are unoccupied.

The limitations for smoke partitions are often related to air transfer openings, which are prohibited, and non-rated doors which are self closing or automatic-closing. Unlike fire doors, smoke partition doors are not required to be positive latching. Smoke dampers are not required in duct penetrations of smoke partitions.


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