Fire safety and building codes have changed dramatically since 2000. The changes are driven in part by advances in building materials like clear fire rated glazing products that can now be used in floor-to-ceiling transparent walls that block smoke, flames and radiant heat as effectively as opaque materials, and are tested to the following standards: ASTM E-119, NFPA 251, UL 263. Other code changes are intended to clear up confusion in labeling fire rated glass and address improper applications that may result, for example, in unsafe wired glass in hazardous locations or in too much fire protective glazing, like ceramics, where they should not be.
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. 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.
Distinguishing Between Fire Protective and Fire Resistive Glass
The key to understanding modern building and fire codes is to understand the difference between fire protective and fire resistive glazing. Each FRG 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 and misapplication of the FRG.
Click here to review the definitions of fire protective glass and fire resistive glass.
2012 IBC Chapter 7 tables
The just-published 2012 IBC model building code significantly revises three tables in Chapter 7 in order to clarify requirements and limitations for fire rated glass (FRG). The revised tables do not add new code requirements. Rather, they address confusion about applications, performance and limitations on FRG contained in the 2006 and 2009 editions of the IBC.Even though the 2012 IBC does not take effect until accepted by local jurisdictions, the new Chapter 7 tables are helpful in understanding and meeting the glazing code requirements contained in the 2006 and 2009 IBC, as well as NFPA 80 outlined in the 1999 and 2007 NFPA 80 editions.
Revisions in the 2012 IBC Chapter 7 tables work to: clarify the use of fire protective versus fire resistive glass, create new marking for fire-rated glazing assemblies, differentiate between the use of fire protective and fire resistive glass in door and window assemblies and ban the use of traditional wired glass in hazardous locations.
Click here to read more about Chapter 7 in the 2012 IBC - and download relevant Tables 716.3, 716.5 and 716.6
There is one important change contained in 2012 IBC. Previous editions of IBC provided 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. 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…
Building Codes Ban Traditional Wired 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. The wires actually weaken the glass and wired glass panels can break with as little as 50 ft. lbs. of force, or the force exerted by a small child running into this glazing.
In 1977, traditional wired glass was given an exemption from meeting the CPSC impact safety standard when used in doors, sidelites and other potentially hazardous locations because wired glass manufacturers claimed that they did not have the technology to meet such critical standards. Twenty-five years later, they still claimed that they could not meet these safety standards. This all changed when safety wired glass products, such as SaftiFirst’s filmed Superlite I-W, were introduced.
The 2003 IBC removed the exemption for traditional wired glass in educational and athletic facilities and set forth that the federal safety glazing standards applied in those buildings. In the 2004 IBC Supplement and the 2006 IBC code, restrictions were taken one step further. The result was that traditional wired glass is no longer exempt from meeting safety standards when used in any potentially hazardous location. This applies to all new construction and in all types of occupancies (see Sec. 2406.1.1 in the 2003 and 2006 IBC). New safety wired glass is economical and meets all the fire protective glazing and safety standards, making it the best value in fire rated glass.