Biological Sciences Building home of architectural marvel

by Emily Laub, University of Michigan Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Student

Juanita Pardo Sanchez from nose up wearing a mask and orange rimmed glasses in front of the smoke curtain and next to a taped up hand written sign saying Nation's Largest Fire Curtain per Mark Matusko
Juanita Pardo Sanchez and the Nation’s (probably the World’s) Largest Smoke Curtain!

The Biological Sciences Building is home to many fantastic exhibits of mammoth proportions, including a soaring Quetzalcoatlus and a 45 ft long Basilosaurus skeleton vaulted from the ceiling. What visitors might not know is that the BSB is also home to an architectural marvel – The World’s Largest Fire Curtain! The fire curtain is proudly displayed on the second floor and allows visitors and students to feel safe from flames, no matter the current fire emergency status. “Flamey,” as the fire curtain is affectionately named by some students in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department, spans 50 feet long and 20 feet tall. 

The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology community is proud to host this monument. Graduate student, Juanita Pardo Sanchez, greatly admires Flamey. “At first I was concerned about reduced natural light due to Flamey constantly being on display, but now I sit at my desk with a UV lamp, so I get to enjoy gazing at Flamey and prevent SAD.” Mark Matusko, the building manager of BSB, is also fond of Flamey. When asked what it means to work with the world’s largest fire curtain, Mark proudly proclaims “It means it’s a real pain in my a**!” Due to Flamey’s unprecedented size, ordering any parts for repairs is challenging, however this allows our community to better enjoy the constant presence of The World’s Largest Fire Curtain. 

Despite the majesty of the World’s Largest Fire Curtain, Flamey continues to be unrecognized by wider audiences. Efforts are being made to get Flamey Historic Landmark Status and recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records, thus far to no avail. Perhaps this is due to the bitter rivalry between Flamey and the World’s Largest Smokey the Bear in Hill City, South Dakota for “Best Tribute to Fire Safety.” “Flamey could defeat Smokey any day!”, boasts student Emily Laub. “A fireproof wall has way more charisma than a bear in a hat, plus Flamey could actually defeat a real fire, unlike a carved wooden bear!” Regardless of any current national recognition, patrons of the Natural History Museum and the Biological Sciences Building can rest easy knowing that they are protected by The World’s Largest Fire Curtain. 

UPDATE 1: Mark Matusko has alerted the author that Flamey is NOT in fact a “Fire curtain” but rather a “Smoke curtain.” The author apologies for the oversight, specifically to Flamey, the Smoke Curtain. 

UPDATE 2: Smokey the Bear has responded, “I wish to be removed from this narrative. I support all fire-safety mascots.” The author is unimpressed. We are coming for that crown, Smokey. #Flamey4Lyfe