Architects, engineers, and building owners continue to welcome trends in the construction industry to keep up with new developments and set up better projects. One of the rising trends in the industry is the use of fire-rated glazing solutions, for these innovative products can do more than just defend against the spread of fire and smoke.
Despite that, many are still hesitant about the applications of fire-rated glazing in construction projects. These apprehensions stem from several myths and misconceptions about the product, as not many building teams are familiar with fire-rated glazing assemblies.
Considering the progression of fire-rated products and building code requirements, it’s understandable how some have reservations about these products. Below, we’ll debunk people’s common misconceptions about fire-rated glazing solutions and reveal the truth behind them.
5 Myths and Misconceptions on Fire-Rated Glazing Solutions
1. “Code approval is based on how long a product can endure a fire test.”
Designers and building owners must understand the fire rated glazing product’s overall performance when choosing the correct and code approved product for their application. Many simply assume that the products get code approval solely based on how long they can endure a fire test (i.e., 20-, 30-, 45-, 60-, 90-, 120-minute ratings). These time-based labels only indicate how long the material stayed in the opening during the fire test.
However, the code approval is established on the overall performance of the materials used in the product and the intended purpose of the whole assembly itself—whether it’s fire-protective or fire-resistive. Although both have their own features, the latter has more restrictive code requirements.
There are specific test criteria for fire-rated glazing materials, such as floor/ceiling criteria and temperature standards to receive code approval.
2. “The hose stream test is valid for testing for thermal shock resistance from sprinklers.”
This is incorrect because the hose stream test was not intended or established as a thermal shock test or stress performance for fire-rated glazing applications when the building is sprinklered.
In a real fire, sprinklers activate at about 165°F, which usually occurs within a few (not 45 minutes) of the fire’s initial outbreak. Sprinkler discharge at these relatively low temperatures virtually eliminates any threat of thermal shock. In contrast, fire rated glass is subjected to temperatures of up to 1800°F before being subjected to a hose stream from 20 feet away with a force of 20 psi.
3. “Fire-resistive glazing is better, so there’s no need to use fire-protective glazing.”
Fire-rated glazing has two types: fire-protective and fire-resistive. Basically, fire-resistive applications block not only the flames and smokes but also the heat transmission. Meanwhile, fire-protective glazing contains fire and smoke but cannot prevent radiant heat.
Each type provides its own benefits and unique features. For instance, fire-protective glass solutions are usually used on doors and openings up to 45 minutes, while fire-resistive glass materials work effectively in compartmentalizing fire, smoke, and radiant heat for ratings up to 2 hours. The latter is also not limited to size or application.
Nonetheless, all fire-rated glass assemblies offer a level of protection against roaring flames compared to traditional door solutions. You can always consult with a reputable fire-rated glazing vendor to help you choose which type of glazing would work best for specific areas in your building.
4. “Fire-rated glazing assemblies are not stylish.”
Contrary to this common misconception, fire-rated glazing solutions can be the perfect blend of innovative protection and architectural style. Modern fire-rated glass solutions are versatile in design without compromising fire safety requirements. You can find fire-rated materials that are mostly transparent and designed to look as stylish as they are excellent at preventing fires.
Gone are the days where fire-rated assemblies look clunky. Today, you can choose materials that can defend you not only from fire but also from hurricanes, bullets, blasts, noise and UV ray transmission—and with an aesthetic appeal at that. Today, you can easily find a code-compliant and aesthetically pleasing solution for fire rated glazed doors, openings, storefronts, curtain walls and floors.
5. “Fire resistive glass is imported from Europe.”
This is not true. While fire-resistive glazing technology originated in Europe, there are many fire-rated glass and framing solutions available today that are made from the USA. These USA-made fire-rated products are produced in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities that utilize innovative and automated equipment to maintain the highest level of product quality.
SAFTI FIRST, a leading manufacturer of USA-made, fire-rated glass, has over 40 years of experience in testing, advancing, and building advanced fire-rated materials that come with excellent design, flexibility, and competitive pricing. Learn more about SAFTI FIRST’s top-rated facilities and capabilities in this video.
Understand Fire-rated Basics
Many building teams are starting to embrace fire-rated glazing solutions because of the high level of protection they provide. When it comes to prioritizing fire protection, fire-rated glazing products offer reliable, 24/7 protection that can help save lives and minimize property damage and financial losses.
SAFTI FIRST is a vertically integrated, single-source manufacturer of USA-made, top-quality fire-rated assemblies that can elevate your buildings’ physical defenses against fire and smoke while maintaining the architectural appeal of the products. For more information about how your property can benefit from fire-rated applications, contact us today to get started.