Blake Fire and Security Systems

When and where are Fire Roller Shutters required?

Date: 29 January 2023

It raged for four days. A fire so intense that flames leapt from building to building, quickly spreading among a maze of narrow, tightly packed streets.

Riverside warehouses full of combustible materials became a wall of flame. And thousands could do nothing but flee for their lives.

All this from the smouldering hot coals of a baker's oven.

But in 1666, there was no such thing as a fire roller shutter. Had there been, Thomas Farriner's bakery might not have been the source of the inferno they quickly dubbed The Great Fire of London.

Yet, it's not just bakeries that need modern fire protection measures installed.

In the right conditions - with or without hot coals - any fire can spread rapidly with catastrophic results. That's why, for all types of businesses, fire roller shutters can play a vital role in fire protection.

Although not fireproof, they are designed to contain any fire should the worst ever happen.

They also help provide safe escape routes for those inside a building. But more on this later.

When and where are Fire Roller Shutters required? What type of business?

By law, all UK businesses must have appropriate fire protection measures in place.

Exactly what those measures are will depend entirely on the level of fire risk a business or premises has. For example, an accountancy firm will have a much lower risk than a car-spraying workshop does.

Here are just a few examples of where you'll find fire roller shutters installed:

  • Factories, warehouses and workshops
  • Canteens, restaurants and cafeterias
  • Power and chemical plants
  • Schools, colleges and university campuses
  • Hospitals and science laboratories
  • Shopping centres and retail stores

As you can see, some premises have a more obvious fire risk than others. This is why fire roller shutters come with different levels of fire resistance.

What is a Fire Roller Shutter's Fire Resistance Level?

As already mentioned, they are designed and constructed to resist fire. However, it is only following rigorous fire resistance testing at a specialist laboratory that a fire roller shutter is given a legally certified Fire Resistance Level (FRL) rating.

This rating comes in three levels: 60, 120, and 240 minutes (1, 2 and 4 hours).

Another legal requirement for all businesses is the regular undertaking of a Fire Safety Risk Assessment by your company's 'Responsible Person'.

This inspection must test, check and review all your fire safety equipment (including, fire roller shutters and fire alarm systems) and procedures you have in place for your business.

And because of their vital role in fire protection, your fire roller shutters must be serviced every six months. This ensures you remain fully compliant with Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

fire curtains

Where can a Fire Roller Shutter be fitted?

Constructed from galvanised steel slats, a fire roller shutter is designed to be installed directly above a doorway or larger opening. This makes them quite bulky and so difficult to conceal – unlike a fire curtain which can be installed within a ceiling and so hidden from view.

However, no matter what size the opening is, fire regulations mean it must have a solid masonry (brick or reinforced concrete) and/or structural steel supporting surround. This must also have an equal or greater level of fire resistance as the fire roller shutter.

All fire roller shutters are connected to a fire alarm system. This can also include smoke and heat detectors. Once the alarm is triggered each shutter will descend into place and seal off that particular part of the building.

This compartmentalisation means that any fire is contained to the area where it starts. And with the location of each fire roller shutter carefully planned, safe escape routes for those inside a building can also be created.

Can a Fire Roller Shutter be a fire escape?

In most cases, fire roller shutters are set to fully close once triggered by an alarm. By sealing off doorways either side of a corridor, for example, an obvious and safe escape route can be created.

However, a building's layout may mean this isn't always possible. In these circumstances the fire roller shutters can be programmed to operate differently. Here, instead of closing, the shutters will stay open once the alarm is triggered. And in some cases open from a normally closed position.

In accordance with Appendix B of the Buildings Regulations Approved Document B, when a fire roller shutter is located above a doorway forming an escape exit or part of an escape route, a heat sensor or sensors must be installed in the immediate vicinity of the doorway. This should either be an electronic heat detector or a fusible link.

With heat sensors in place, the only way the shutter can close is when heat from a fire is detected close to the doorway. This ensures the integrity of a building will be maintained – heat will trigger the door to close. While at the same time prevent any sudden closure as people escape.

So, does your business need a Fire Roller Shutter?

Much has changed in the 350-plus years since Thomas Farriner's bakery caught fire on that fateful September night. Both in terms of how fires are prevented and tackled. But even today, an uncontrolled fire can still have catastrophic consequences for any business.

Ultimately, Building Control regulations will determine whether fire roller shutters are legally required for your business or not. But even if your fire risk is considered low and so possibly not mandatory, fire roller shutters are an investment well worth considering. Because the
consequences of a fire could be far, far higher.


Perhaps you're considering Fire Roller Shutters as a part of your Fire Protection strategy? If you're based in Essex, London or the South East, we can help.

Click the Get Your Quote button below and one of our experts will get back to you ASAP.

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This blog post is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. Call Blake's on 01702 447800 to speak to one of our professionals for specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content on our site.

Although we make reasonable efforts to update the information on our site, we make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content on our site is accurate, complete or up to date.

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