Fire rated Glass
Be it a office space, industrial complex or your home fire safety is important. The two main goals are life safety and property protection. Fire-Rated Glass or Fire Resistant Glass is a solution to this problem.
Fire-Rated glass can help keep flames, smoke and hot toxic gases from spreading from one room to another. The official term for this is compartmentation, and it means that glass can play a vital role in restricting fire damage to a limited area.
Where is Fire Rated Glass used
Fire Rated Glass is used particularly in compartmentation of a building. Doors and partitions are used to protect corridors and egress ways from flames and heat for fast and safe evacuation of a building or quick access to the source of a fire by emergency personnel. One of the key design benefits of using Fire-Rated Glass is to bring natural light into the heart of a building to enhance the environment and distinctive design features while maximizing the safety of its inhabitants. This leads to the use of Fire-Rated Glass in walls, floors, façades, doors and roofing systems all designed to isolate and contain a fire.
Benefits of Fire Rated Glass
- Restricts spread of flames, smoke and hot gases
- Maintains integrity when fractured or sprayed with water
- Proven real-life performance
- Available in clear and textured versions
- Cost effective fire resistant solution
- Tested in widest range of sizes and applications
- Suitable for internal and external applications
- Suitable for use in many different framing systems
- Readily available and easily cut
- Accepted by Fire and Building Control Authorities
- Acts as deterrent to would-be intruders
Different Types Of Fire-Rated Products by Bear Glass
Polished Wired Glass
Polished Wired Glass is far and away the most well known product in the industry. Used for more than a century, it has a solid track record. Most codes were originally written around wired glass, because for many years it was the only glass that could pass the fire testing. Wired glass is able to pass the hose stream test, and has earned a 45 minute rating (even higher in very small door sizes). Code and fire officials have been able to instantly recognize the wire mesh as a sign that glass was fire-rated. In some instances, however, that same wire mesh has presented an undesirable “institutional” image. And occasionally, people have mistakenly assumed that the wire mesh makes the glass more impact resistant. Truth be told, wired glass is a relatively weak glass that only meets minimal 100 ft./lb. impact standards. With that in mind, even though wired glass is readily available and easily affordable, great care should be taken if it is installed in areas where impact safety is a concern, such as schools and other high traffic areas. Some schools, with liability issues in mind, use high impact fire-rated glass – even if initial costs are higher.
Ceramic Glass is a category of fire-rated glazing that has entered the market during the past 12 years. Ceramic has long been known for its amazing ability to withstand heat and thermal shock. That’s why today you can find ceramic in everything from cooktops to car engines. Once the technology was developed to form a clear product out of ceramic, it didn’t take long to see the potential for its use as a fire-rated glass. Ceramic glass is a specific glass compound that is heat resistant. It has a very definite tint and is used as an entry level Fire Rated Glass. It is important to note this is not a safety glass, it can only be used where the human impact standards do not apply. Like Georgian wired glass Ceramic glass has limited applications and restrictions on how it can be used. Glass ceramic is also available made into insulated glass units (IGU). The IGU are made of two layers of glass with an air space in between. They can incorporate many types of float glass - clear, tinted, Low-E, mirrored, etc. Depending on which components are used, they provide not only fire protection but comply with energy codes as well. The IGU's are sometimes used for interior applications where sound reduction is desired.
Transparent and Wireless Glass
Transparent and Wireless, Ceramic Glass offers a distinct aesthetic advantage. It comes in a range of make-ups that can provide many different characteristics: fire ratings up to 3 hours, high impact safety ratings, sound reduction, etc. It can also be beveled, etched or sandblasted without affecting the fire rating. It is even available in insulated glass unit (IGU) make-ups that comply with energy codes for use in exterior applications.
Specialty Tempered Glass
Bear Glass Specialty Tempered Glass has become a popular alternative for low level fire safety. It is clear, wireless and has a fairly moderate initial investment. High impact ratings make it suitable for some door applications. However, it does have some serious drawbacks that are important to note. Unlike other fire-rated glazing products, specialty tempered glass doesn’t pass the hose stream test. In an actual fire, if sprinklers activate nearby and even a small amount of water hits the hot glass, it will likely fall out of its frame – quite possibly within just a few minutes. That’s why it has only been able to comply with standards for a 20 minute rating. Many times this type of material has been inappropriately substituted for wired glass or other higher performance fire-rated glass, when in fact it does not carry the same fire rating. If sprinklers are anywhere near the opening, this product should not be considered.
Transparent Wall Units
Bear Glass Transparent Wall Units make up the final category of fire-rated glass, and in reality, they are in a class by themselves. They are tested and classified as “walls,” even though they are made of glass. Their claim to fame is their resistance to heat transfer. Transparent wall units can actually block significant amounts of heat from transferring through the glass. A fire could be raging on one side and you could literally still place your hand on the other side of the glass. For areas such as stairwells where people could be trapped for long periods of time, or in sensitive computer areas, or where large expanses of glass are used, transparent wall panels serve a genuine need. There are different kinds of these products on the market. Some are insulated units filled with a clear gel that turns to an opaque foam during a fire. Others are made of multiple layers of glass (similar to bullet resistant glass) with intumescent interlayer that turn opaque during a fire. Both styles of products have ratings of up to 2 hours, withstand the fire hose stream test and offer high impact safety ratings. Thanks to new framing that is now available, architects can incorporate these transparent wall and door units from floor to ceiling in their designs, and still offer 2 hour fire protection.