In recent years the expanse of technology in glazing has produced brilliant fire safety glass components that comply with the required safety regulations but do not interfere with the architect’s aesthetic vision for a space or building.
IQ Glass, as the leading architectural glazing company in the UK, are well ahead of these evolutions.
Fire Glass vs. Standard Glazing
Normal toughened glass does not offer adequate fire resistance for required escape routes. These glass elements will shatter at 250 degrees C which will be reached within 2-3 minutes of a fire break out in a building.
In the past, if vision was needed through a fire screen, small vision holes of wired glass were used. These panes could only be very small in size as the glass is not impact resistant and will break and shatter with very minimal force.
Modern Fire Rated Glass screens are both fire resistant and impact resistant, meeting all aspects of safety.
There are two elements to deliberate when thinking of fire safety in a building. One is Active Fire protection; these are elements such as fire alarms and sprinkler systems which actively alert the presence of a fire and take steps to remove the threat of a fire.
Fire resistant glass systems encompass part of the second element of fire safety; Passive Fire Protection.
Fire resistant glazed assemblies stop the spread of fire by creating fire compartments where the fire can be contained, limiting the spread of the fire to keep escape routes clear and enabling swift fire fighting.
These fire resistant screens also allow clear vision through the glass element making it easier to detect the fire hazard and ensuring that nothing or no one is left behind.
Fire Protection in Glazing
In terms of fire safety with glass, the actual glazing is just one part of a full fire-resistant system. This includes framework, hinges, components, handles etc. which all need to be fire rated, tested and approved to the various fire ratings.
Traditionally Fire rated framing needed to be in steel or hardwood timber to achieve sufficient fire resistance in the framing profiles. These have their downsides in terms of profile thickness and finish appearances.
Fire Protection Ratings
As well as smoke and gas, fire gives out radiant heat. These invisible and intense waves of energy travel through the air, beyond the reach of the fire. When they strike an object this radiant energy is absorbed and converted into heat. So even if an area is protected by a fire resistant material, if there are combustible items on the non-fire side of the partition these items can auto-ignite, allowing the spread of the fire beyond the fire resistant partitioning.
Glass Fire Screens and systems can be specified to limit the amount of radiant heat that is able to travel through the system, therefore reducing the spread of fire and the safety of escape routes.
Fire resistance categories are broken down into three sectors:
E-Class – Integrity
These glass elements stop flame, smoke and gas from travelling through the glazing system but will not limit the amount of radiant heat transfer over the materials. E-Class systems can be used in places where quick evacuation is achievable and where there are no combustible materials on the non-fire side of the glass.
EW-Class – Partial Insulation
These glass systems will stop flame, smoke and gas travel but will also reduce the amount of radiant heat that can travel through the glazed element. EW rated glass systems can reduce radiant heat transfer to 15KW/m2 at 1m distance from the glazing.
EI-Class – Full Insulation
As well as stopping flame, smoke and gases EI Class systems act as a barrier to radiant heat and reduces the radiant energy to 1KW/m2 at 1m from the glazing. This means you could stand on the glass directly opposite the fire and feel no increase in heat, giving complete fire safety from the glazed element.
All ratings are described in terms of insulation or integrity length of time from 30 minutes to 2 hours (120 minutes).
Contact IQ Glass for more details.
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