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Building Interior

Today’s clear, impact-safe, fire rated glazing and framing can be used in floor-to-ceiling transparent walls, openings, exteriors, sidelites/transoms, exit passageways and other places, in order to block smoke, flames and radiant heat as effectively as opaque materials (e.g., tested to ASTM E-119, NFPA 251, and UL 263). Building and fire codes are continually updated to guide the proper use of new transparent building materials, and to clarify limits. All fire rated products are not the same. And even when fire rated glass and framing products look similar, the codes governing where specific products can be used will vary widely.

Codes Distinguish Between Fire Protective and Fire Resistive

The key to understanding modern building and fire codes is to understand the difference between fire protective and fire resistive glazing and framing. Each category has its own set of performance features, test standards and allowed applications. 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, misapplication, and costly replacement. Click here to review the definitions of fire protective and fire resistive glass and framing.

The 2012 IBC Chapter 7 and NFPA 101 Tables

The 2012 IBC model building code significantly revises three tables in Chapter 7 in order to clarify requirements and limitations for fire rated glass and framing. The revised tables do not add new code requirements. Rather, they address confusion about applications, performance ratings, and limits on fire rated assemblies. Revised 2012 IBC Chapter 7 tables clarify the use of fire protective versus fire resistance rated glazing and framing, create new markings for fire rated glazing assemblies, differentiate between the use of fire protective and fire resistive products in door and window assemblies and ban the use of traditional Wired glass in hazardous locations. Click here to learn more about the new Chapter 7 tables. Click here to view the 2012 IBC Chapter 7 Tables.

The 2012 NFPA 101 Tables were adapted similarly to help clarify the proper application of various fire rated glazing and framing products. Click here to view the 2012 NFPA 101 Tables.

Code Confusion

SAFTIFIRST created this website, publishes a regular e-newsletter called “Code Considerations,” and provides free AIA and ICC accredited web classes to help clear up confusion about the codes and proper uses of fire rated glass and framing. Feel free to explore code related links on this page and on these other pages: Code Education, FAQs, and Articles. Or email DianaS@safti.com to set up a webinar or further explore your code questions. Below are some situations where mistakes and misapplications often occur.

Use fire resistive glass in door vision panels in excess of 100 sq in. Prior to the 2012 IBC, there was an exception that allowed large fire protective vision panels in fire doors used in exit enclosures and passageways when the building was fully sprinklered. The new 2012 IBC removes the sprinkler exception. Sprinklers can and do fail. Large door vision panels (in excess of 100 sq. in.) must be fire resistive glass. Wired glass, ceramics and other fire protective glazing used in fire doors may not exceed 100 sq. in. Read more…

Use impact safe glass in hazardous locations. Today’s model building codes prohibit the use of “traditional wired” glass in hazardous locations like doors, sidelites, and any location that requires safety. Wired glass is not safety glass. Read more…

Use fire resistive framing, not hollow metal framing, where fire resistive glazing is required. Building owners, architects, general contractors and subcontractors should confirm that the tested and listed performance capabilities of the framing system match those of the glazing in order to avoid a costly mistake. Simply put, the glass and framing in an assembly must meet the same code requirements. Read more….

Be cautious about higher standards for sidelites and transoms than for door openings. When the code requires fire doors rated 1-hour or more, then the sidelites and transoms around that door must be fire resistive and rated to the same standard as the wall. Sidelites and transoms around a 20-minute fire door in a 1-hour exit require a 45-minute fire rating with hose stream. Read more…

If glass is applied to more than 25% of a wall in a 1-hour exit corridor, it must be fire resistive. 45-minute fire protective windows are permitted in a 1-hour exit corridor, up to a maximum of 25% of the wall area. If a designer wishes to use more glazing then 1-hour fire resistive glazing, like SuperLite II-XL 60, should be used to meet code requirements. Read more…