What is the difference between fire screens and fire-rated partitioning?

This is certainly a question we get asked a lot. Whilst the difference between fire screens and fire-rated partitioning is fairly straightforward, it is very important and remains a grey area for a lot of specifiers.

So, let’s identify why and when you would specify one and not the other.

Most importantly, whether you would use fire screens or fire-rated partitioning will depend on the level of performance you require. Ultimately fire screens provide a higher level of fire protection. Komfort’s Defence EI Fire Screens offer fire ratings of up to 120 minutes, whilst fire rated partitioning offer fire ratings of up to 30 minutes.

But why do fire screens perform better?

Firstly, fire screens are made using steel, whereas partitioning is made using aluminium. The steel within the fire screens has much less thermal conductivity, making it good for high-temperature environments.

Secondly, there are two different types of fire screens – Komfort’s Defence E & EI Fire Screens. Defence EI Fire Screens offer both integrity and insulation performance against fire breakouts; whereas Defence E offers integrity performance only. The difference in the performance is due to the Defence EI Fire Screens having thermal insulation breaks in the middle of the steel tubes, which Defence E Fire Screens do not. You can read more about integrity and insulation performance here.

Taking this into consideration, it is important to know that if you require both integrity and insulation fire performance for your doors, you will need to specify fire screens. This why fire screens are commonly used in corridors and along escape routes.

There is also another important difference between fire screens and fire-rated partitioning. When using fire screens, you can specify both latched and unlatched doors, whereas with partitioning you can only have latched. Examples of unlatched doors include pull handles.

Talk to the experts

If you would like to more about our fire screens, you can view our dedicated fire rated system page here or book our RIBA Fire Rated Systems and Safety CPD here. Alternatively, please do not hesitate to get in contact with our expert Fire Screens team for any support and advice in specifying fire rated systems.