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Designing with fire rated glass

Fire Rated Glass

UC Davis Medical Center 1, Sacramento, CaliforniaAdvances in fire-rated glazing have delivered new tools to designers working to maximize the amount of daylight reaching deep inside a building. For decades, traditional wired glass was the only fire rated glazing available. Today, there are safe wired glass products as well as clear, wire free and tint free alternatives that can be used instead of opaque masonry or gypsum in walls, doors, lobbies, courtyards, roofs and exit corridors, pulling in light from outside and from adjacent spaces. These new products give architects greater design flexibility, help bring light into deep interior spaces, reduce energy use, reduce noise and improve security.

What is fire rated glazing?

Chapter 2 of the 2012 IBC defines fire rated glazing as “Glazing with either a fire protection rating or a fire-resistance rating.” Fire protection rating is “the period of time that an opening protective will maintain the ability to confine a fire as determined by tests prescribed in Section 715. Ratings are stated in hours or minutes.” And, fire-resistance rating is “The period of time a building element, component or assembly maintains the ability to confine afire, continues to perform a given structural function, or both, as determined by the tests, or the methods based on tests, prescribed in Section 703.”

Transparent wallWhere Do You Find Fire-Rated Glass?

    • Fire Windows: Exterior Windows & Borrowed Lites
    • Fire Doors: Vision Panels; and Sidelites & Transoms
    • Fire Resistive Barriers: Non load-bearing walls; load-bearing walls

 

What’s the difference between Fire Protective and Fire Resistive?

There are two types of fire rated glazing and framesFire Protective and Fire Resistive. Both block smoke and flames. But, only fire resistive glass and framing can block the transmission of dangerous radiant heat. Both fire protective and fire resistive glazing and framing have their own set of performance features, test standards and allowed applications under the building and fire codes. Simply relying on the fire endurance rating (20, 45, 60, 90, 120 and 180 minutes) or whether a product is thick or thin can lead to faulty specifications and misapplication of the fire rated glass and framing.

Fire Protective vs Fire Resistive diagram

Fire protective glass and framing are designed to block smoke and flames, but they cannot block radiant heat. Fire protective products are subject to the following test standards: NFPA 252, NFPA 257, UL 9, UL 10B, UL 10C. Fire protective glazing and framing include: specialty tempered, traditional wired glass, safety wired glass, ceramics and hollow metal framing. While some fire protective products are rated 60 to 180 minutes, they have limits on their use in 1-hour walls and vision panels in doors. They are prohibited altogether in sidelights, transoms, and windows in 2-hour interior walls.

Fire resistive glass and framing blocks smoke, flames and radiant heat transmission. Fire resistive products are tested to the following standards: ASTM E-119, NFPA 251, UL 263. These standards apply to all fire-resistive wall materials where the temperature rise on the non-fire side cannot exceed an average of 250º F. Fire resistive glass products include fire retardant filled units and multi-laminates.

What's Fire Rated Glass?Click here or the image (right) to see a video detailing the difference between fire protective and fire resistive glass. Because FRG is used in door and wall assemblies, it is important to also consider code requirements for framing. Simply put, the fire-rated framing requirements must match the glazing requirements. READ MORE…

What is radiant heat?

Fire emits electromagnetic radiation that travels in invisible waves through space. When these waves hit a combustible material or a person, the radiant energy is absorbed and converted into heat. When radiant heat is absorbed by a combustible material, the object catches fire when the material’s ignition temperature is reached. Protecting people from radiant heat is vital because exposed individuals quickly feel unbearable pain, followed by second-degree burns, making safe egress impossible. READ MORE….

Click here to see a video demonstrating the effect of radiant heat energy passing through fire protective glass.

Impact-Safe Fire Rated Glass

In 1977, traditional wired glass was given an exemption from meeting the Consumer Protection Safety Commission’s (CPSC’s) impact safety standard when used in doors, sidelites and other potentially hazardous locations because glass manufacturers claimed that they did not have the technology to make fire-rated glass that could meet the glass safety standards. In the last decade, advances in fire-rated glazing technology led to safer, wire-free alternatives that provide both fire and impact safety.

Today, IBC model codes stipulate that all fire-rated glazing must comply with the same impact safety requirements that apply to any other type of architectural glazing. Prior to the 2003 and 2006 IBC, model codes exempted traditional wired glass from having to meet the same impact safety requirements as any other glazing.  The 2003 IBC removed the exemption for wired glass in educational occupancies, and the 2006 IBC removed the exemption for all occupancies. Today, wired glass is now required to fully meet the CPSC safety glazing requirements. In addition, the IBC 2003 and 2006 IBC prescribe a higher requirement for glazing used in gymnasiums and similar types of athletic facilities, requiring glazing used in areas subject to human impact load to meet the Category II CPSC impact standard. READ MORE…

Check out the Fire Rated Glass and Framing Glossary.

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