While others may say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” I don’t subscribe to this way of thinking. In fact, I have found myself at odds with individuals or entire organizations because I believed there was a better way of doing something – that there is always room for improvement.
I first got into the fire rated glazing industry in the 1970s because I refused to believe that wire glass, which has been used in the US for over 100 years, was the only fire rated glazing option. After seeing clear, wire-free fire rated glazing products that outperform wire glass – even to the extent of some being considered a ‘fire wall rated 2 hours while stopping radiant heat – in one of the European glass shows, I knew that I had to bring this to the US. Not an easy task to do because at that time, it meant going toe-to-toe with large, multi-billion wire glass companies in 3 ways: first was raising public awareness of dangers and limitations of wire glass; second was championing code changes that ensured the safety of building occupants, and third was designing, manufacturing and then introducing these new, innovative products – something that I am truly passionate about.
After nearly four decades of founding SAFTI FIRST, a division of O’Keeffe’s Inc. in 1980, we still continue to be the only vertically integrated, single-source fire rated glazing and framing company to offer a USA-made fire rated system. Being a USA-manufacturer is important to us. The fire rated glazing requirements are very different and more difficult to pass in the USA from those in Europe and Asia. This is due to the hose stream part of the testing, making the US standards and codes much more difficult to pass. Because of our stricter IBC standards, developing and introducing new products specifically for the US, Canada and parts of the Middle East that have adopted these standards can be challenging. As the only US-manufacturer of a single-source fire rated glass and framing system, the research and development of new innovative products to meet and exceed these stricter requirements is at our core. That’s the unique value that SAFTI FIRST brings to the table.
We’ve always been heavily engaged in research and development efforts, and have ramped up even more in the last few years. We have a separate building that allows us to do in-house, full-scale testing next to our manufacturing facilities in Merced, CA. Our R&D team is rich in technical expertise, practical experience and creative thinking. Having our own R&D facility and dedicated R&D team allows us to develop and introduce new products faster than any of our competitors. Because the truth is, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind.
Proof of this will be unveiled at the beginning of the year as we announce a new, revolutionary, patented, 45 minute fire protective, hose stream rated, game-changer that combines clarity, performance and affordability in one product. After successfully completing our third-party lab testing by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), we will soon be bringing this listed and labeled product to market. This revolutionary glazing product will stun the competition and be tremendously exciting to the fire rated glass specifiers and end users. Stay tuned!
And we’re not stopping there… we have more products on our R&D list that we’re taking to the lab next year. These products will challenge the way you’ve thought about fire rated glass and framing, and hopefully inspire you to design spaces like you never have before. Let’s more forward together!