Winter  2003

Spit and Polished
A Look at What Non-Wired, Fire-Rated Glass is All About

It has now been more than 20 years since the initial launch of a non-wired fire glass (a borosilicate from Schott glass).

Since then the number of providers of non-wired, fire-rated glasses has multiplied but not by a number you can lose count of, since the entry costs for product development and type testing in different countries are time-consuming and rather costly for such a small market. But an important one, both for aesthetic appearances and for improved performance, is fire ratings in other areas.


The current crop of non-wired fire glasses will provide you with some of the following options:
• Fire ratings from 20 minutes up to two hours and more;
• Heat protection (insulation) as well as fire-stopping ability (integrity);
• Partial heat protection (radiation control);
• Visual clarity without the appearance of wire mesh;
• Category I and Category II impact protection (inbuilt without filming);
• (For some products) ex-stock availability.

So why don’t you know all these facts already? Are they not features, about which their manufactures should be trumpeting from the rooftops? Well yes they are, but rooftop trumpeting costs money, either in direct advertising or in technical public relations pieces and the bigger players in the glass industry are probably prioritising other products and issues.

Both in Europe and certainly in the United States, it has been left to smaller specialized fire glass manufacturers and distributors (or sometimes small divisions of the big groups) to make the running, both in product development and in making the wider market aware of their activities.

Here in this forum let us try to remove some of the mystique, surrounding fire-rated glass:
• No, you do not need to have wired glass;
• Yes, you can (and must) ask for impact safety as well as fire rating;
• It is not going to cost the earth (given that the framing, installation, etc. will not have to change);
• You can even obtain some fire glasses from a local stocking network.

Other fire-rated products
A “Clear” Alternative
The new International Building Codes are requiring that fire-rated glazing in K-12 schools and athletic facilities conform to CPSC 16CFR1201 Impact Safety Rating. Vetrotech Saint-Gobain of Auburn, Wash., offers products that meet these 

Included in the line-up is the Keralite family of clear glass-ceramics and the Swissflam-N2 products, which resist fire, water (hose stream) and act as a barrier to radiant heat.

Also from Vetrotech Saint-Gobain is the Contraflam-N2, which provides ratings from 60 minutes to two hours.

SpeciFIRE™ is Updated
Technical Glass Products (TGP) of Kirkland, Wash., has updated its SpeciFIRE fire-rated product guide to reflect the latest information on its fire-rated glass and framing products. The guide offers instant access to product information in a compact size. According to the company, users simply identify the fire and impact safety requirements for a project, locate these requirements listed on the slide chart and view the glazing and framing products that match. 

SAFTI Introduces New Wired Glass Product
San Francisco-based SAFTI has announced the certification and listing of a wired glass product, SuperLite I-W, which it says meets Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) impact standards and 90-minute fire rating requirements. 

“Even though we already market and manufacture several wireless fire-rated glazing alternatives to wired glass, such as SuperLite I-XL, we looked for a way to use the new technology in fire-resistant safety film to make a product that meets the same high standards as our non-wired products,” said William O’Keeffe, corporate executive officer (CEO) of SAFTI. “The end result is a wired glass product that gives the U.S. market another inexpensive fire- and safety-rated glazing choice that can be used in new construction and as a replacement for non-safety wired glazing in schools and other building locations.”

SAFTI says that SuperLite I-W has been successfully fire tested to NFPA 252 and NFPA 257, making it safe for use in fire doors and other assemblies where accidental impact can occur. 

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