Thursday 21st April, 2016
When it comes to protecting your property and, more importantly, protecting human life, you want to make sure you aren’t cutting any corners.
Fire safety protocols are something that should be adhered to with the utmost stringency. You need to have confidence that, should the worst ever happen and your property is hit by fire, you have the best possible defences to allow you time to get out of the building and to slow down the spread of the fire as much as possible.
Fire glass is an important element of any building’s integrated fire safety strategy and will be specified in your property’s Building Regulations.
Fire glass is a tempered or toughened glass which has been specially treated to withstand high temperatures and prolonged exposure to heat. Standard window glass tends to break as it reaches around 120°C. Tempered glass will break at around 260°C. But fire-rated glass can generally withstand temperatures of more than 870°C for a certain length of time.
Fire glass primarily acts as a barrier to prevent the spread of flames and smoke in a fire. The degree of this protection is known as the fire glass’s integrity. Some fire-rated glass can also protect against the heat of a fire, which is measured as an insulation rating.
Integrity and insulation are given an official rating according to how long the fire glass can withstand those high temperatures under test conditions. This is given in minutes, ranging from 15 minutes up to 180.
Whether it’s a small glazed panel in a fire door or a larger glass screen, fire glass must be specified and installed with care. And it must be used in conjunction with the rest of the glazed system – so the glazing seal, beads, fixings and frame must also be fire resistant. There’s very little point installing fire-rated glass if your frame is going to go up in flames within a few minutes!
All the constituent parts of the glazed system must also be compatible under fire conditions, with appropriate and corresponding performance levels.
The size of a sheet of fire glass is an important factor in its degree of integrity. A small glass door panel will stay intact in a fire for far longer than a large screen. This is because as the fire glass reaches its softening point, the weight of the larger sheet will cause the glass to collapse on itself, while a smaller panel will be held in place by its fixings.
For more information on fire-rated glass and guidance on installation, the Glass and Glazing Federation’s Fire Resistant Glass FAQ section is a useful resource.
Tufwell Glass manufactures its own 30-minute integrity-only fire glass and also stocks a range of products rated up to 120-minute integrity and insulation. Get in touch to discuss your fire glass requirements or to get a quote.