A best practice savings strategy when specifying 45 minute fire protective glass

New technology allows designers the freedom of large expanses of glazing at less than the cost of standard wall construction.

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March 04, 2019 |
Bill O'Keeffe

Have you ever experienced “sticker shock” when given the budget for ceramic fire protective glass planned for use in your project? Or were you ever in a position of having to change your design and use of fire rated glazing in protective areas? Owners and users of fire protective glazing should not have to decide if having clear views in these rated glazing areas have to be minimized or taken out because of budget constraints. Now, because of a recent breakthrough in 45 minute fire protective glazing technology, this no longer needs to be an issue. This new technology allows designers the freedom of large expanses of glazing at less than the cost of standard wall construction. And when coupled with new 20-45 minute aluminum doors and new frame construction for 45 minute sidelites, transoms, openings in 1 hour fire partitions, corridors or smoke barriers, it is no longer a budgetary concern and allows a real opportunity for clear, open views at a reasonable cost. This new wire-free product option is a patent-pending low-iron specialty fire protective glazing fire rated to 45 minutes with hose stream.  

Suppliers of ceramics mislead when stating their products can be used from 20 minutes to 3 hours.  Ceramics can, but only to 100 sq. inches in doors, and these ceramic glass products are governed by other IBC limitations.

The building code requires fire rated glazing to meet the fire resistive glazing standard ASTM E-119/UL 263 for applications requiring 60-minute ratings and above (90 and 120 minutes) to block the passage of dangerous radiant heat. Because ceramics do not meet the fire resistive standard ASTM E-119/UL 263, these ceramic products are primarily limited to 20-45 minute doors, sidelites, transoms and some openings with limitations. In any fire resistive application or requirement, 60-90-120 minutes, ceramics are limited to 100 sq. inch door vision lites and in 90 minute exterior openings where allowed based on fire separation distance.

Ceramics are the most expensive non-clear products for fire protective applications - even the polished versions have a tint. These filmed and laminated ceramics are also brittle and crack or break on most impacts, which makes replacement costly.

The following examples highlight the savings in a typical 1 hour exit corridor. This first assembly uses specialty glass in the 20 minute door and the new low-iron 45 minute rated with hose stream specialty fire protective glazing throughout the other openings.

The second example uses the most used ceramic product for 20-45 minute applications “laminated ceramics” in the doors and throughout the openings.




Compare that to using laminated ceramic for the 20 minute door and 45 minute sidelite and opening in the same application:

To save money, increase the clear views in your design and meet all fire and safety code requirements, I urge you to update your office’s glazing specifications for 20-45 minute applications.  Here’s how:

— Include specialty glazing SuperLite I in all 20 minute doors for approximately $20 per sq. ft.

— Include low-iron specialty fire protective with hose stream SuperClear 45-HS-LI in all 45 minute doors, sidelites, transoms and openings for approximately $35 per sq. ft.

All products mentioned meet CPSC Cat. II safety and are listed with UL and/or Intertek-WHI. Only the specialty glass is made in the USA with fast lead times.

By specifying these cost-effective, improved glazing products, you can add views, have a lower glazing budget, meet code requirements and provide a more aesthetically clear product to your projects.

Bill O'Keeffe
SAFTI FIRST Fire Rated Glazing Solutions

About the Author: Bill O’Keeffe is the President and CEO of SAFTI FIRST Fire Rated Glazing Solutions, a leading USA-manufacturer of advanced fire rated glass and framing systems.  An industry veteran and innovator with over 45 years of experience in architectural glazing, he was first to introduce and manufacture clear, fire resistive glazing products in the US.  He is also a safety advocate who exposed the dangers of traditional wired glass, which lead to code changes and fire rated glass products that are safe, affordable and clear alternatives to traditional wired glass.  Today, Bill continues to develop building products that enable architects to create beautiful, safe and energy-efficient spaces with advanced glazing systems.

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