Webinar Recap: Fire and Smoke Separation


Fire and smoke are a tragic combination for buildings. While flames cause damage and consume much-needed oxygen, smoke quickly maneuvers throughout a building, making it difficult to breathe. Furthermore, toxic gases are created from the burning of materials. What can architects do to mitigate fatalities, saving people?

First, architects can take training such as this AIA webinar. Product Manager Keith Lunsford from Powers Products Co. shared fire and smoke protection requirements for fire walls, fire barrier walls, and atriums. Lunsford has 20 years of experience in specialty commercial doors and is a Professional Affiliate Member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers.

The Las Vegas MGM Grand Hotel Fire Case Study from 1980 showed that most fatalities were at the top of the building with smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide being major factors. Plus, occupants’ reactions vary on what to do during a fire, causing delay. Hence, the need for effective walls, barriers and atrium smoke protection.

The Fire Barrier Code states that a wall needs to extend continuously from the foundation to or through the roof, and the wall assembly needs to be made of material designed to restrict the spread of fire. Door testing involves a four-hour burn at 1,800 degrees and a water fire hose-stream test to ensure structural integrity. Note: a key area of fire codes is the labeling on materials and products. Read the fine details and completely understand the variances and limitations of products according to their labeling.

Solutions that meet fire and smoke International Building Code requirements include the following:

  1. Wide span opening protective
  2. Steel fire door
  3. Accordion with egress
  4. Rolling fabric curtain
  5. Horizontal fire door
  6. Magnetic gasket
  7. Folding fabric curtain

Criteria to consider in each of these solutions involve costs, structural weight limitations, space and design integration.
Safety is the number one objective in architectural design, and AIA Colorado wants to connect you on an ongoing basis with industry leaders as we design safe, dependable, and environmentally friendly buildings to help our community.

About the Author

JP Arnold

JP Arnold, LEED Green Associate, APR, is Marketing and Business Development Manager at Bridgers & Paxton. He is an Allied Member of AIA and sits on the 2021 Editorial Committee. He is a retired U.S. Army Public Affairs Officer (PAO) and Signal Officer. As a PAO, he worked over 150 media engagements around the world to include The New York Times, CNN, BBC, Newsweek, NBC News, along with Seattle and Colorado Springs media markets. He worked on the National Army Marketing and Advertising Recruiting Campaign alongside Weber Shandwick PR and McCann Erickson Ad Agency. Arnold is Accredited in Public Relations (APR) and holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Mass Communication from Ouachita Baptist University and Middle Tennessee State University (Phi Kappa Phi Honors). He has been married for more than 20 years to his wife and they have two children and several pets.

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