Sounding  
the Alarm  
What You Need to  
Know About Fire-  
Rated Glass  
by Nick St. Denis  
ire-rated glass has undergone major develop-  
ments in recent years, resulting in many new con-  
siderations for architects and designers.  
Experts in the fire-rated glass industry shared  
with Architects’ Guide to Glass and Metal exactly  
what they want architects to understand about  
f
code requirement, but the building they are  
designing has a primary function, and the expec-  
tation is that the code-driven products fall into  
lockstep with the non-rated,” says Nass. “Fire-  
rated is still relatively new, and they are aware of  
products that meet the fire-rated aspect, but they  
are unaware of whether our products have been  
tested for other specific applications.”  
Manufacturers stress that these performance  
criteria can, in fact, be met on multiple levels.  
“While its primary purpose will always be to sat-  
isfy fire- and life-safety codes, it’s almost always pos-  
sible to select a product that does more than simply  
protect against the spread of fire,” says Jeff Razwick,  
president of Technical Glass Products, located in  
Snoqualmie, Wash. “Whether it’s enhanced energy  
efficiency, bullet- or impact-resistance, or protection  
against high winds and wind-borne debris, many of  
the product.  
Their collective message: don’t be left in the dark.  
Up to the Task(s)  
As projects become more complex, so do glaz-  
ing applications.  
Tim Nass, vice president of national sales at  
Brisbane, Calif.-based Safti First, says the majority  
of projects his company is involved with are multi-  
functional. The fire-rated application is partnered  
with another critical performance requirement.  
“The designers and specifiers know they have a  
Fire-rated glazing  
can serve a variety  
of functions, some-  
thing the industry is  
trying to make the  
design community  
more aware of.  
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Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal  
New technological developments in fire-rated  
glass have allowed the product to be imple-  
mented in more unique ways than ever before.  
The desire to have these  
code-driven products blend  
seamlessly into their  
overall design is  
paramount. We are always  
looking for ways to  
minimize the compromise  
on the part of the design  
team/owner.”  
Tim Nass, Safti First  
Two More Things to Consider  
Fire-Protective Isn’t Fire-Resistive  
Grace Graff, western regional sales manager at Vetrotech Saint-Gobain North  
America, says the most important part of understanding fire-rated products is  
distinguishing the difference between fire-protective and fire-resistive.  
“Fire-protective-rated products are meant to protect against smoke, flame and  
gas,” she says. “While they do still let the heat through, these products, such as  
ceramic fire-rated glass, have a high resistance to thermal shock and will  
remain in the opening during the fire.  
“Fire-resistive products offer higher protection for areas that require higher  
minute ratings and protection against radiant heat. These intumescent laminated  
or intumescent gel units actually absorb the heat of the fire to keep the unex-  
posed side below 250 degrees so that occupants can exit safely.”  
today’s products offer a range of performance and  
design benefits that can go a long way to support-  
ing what the building team wants to accomplish.”  
Razwick adds that the broad functional value  
of these products can help offset cost concerns  
design teams may have.  
For example, while it may be cheaper upfront  
Choosing Safety Over Savings  
to use concrete in a floor separation that calls for a  
two-hour, fire-resistant barrier to heat, fire-rated  
glass floor systems have the one-of-a-kind ability to  
let in daylight and create a sense of openness while  
providing critical compartmentation,” he says.  
Jeff Razwick, president of Technical Glass Products, says that during the  
design and specification process, architects shouldn’t compromise on product  
quality when fire and life safety are on the line.  
“It’s crucial to take the time to evaluate whether the product you are specifying  
meets all required fire tests, and to see if it has any special requirements, limita-  
tions or exclusions that may impact the building’s safety,” he says. “For example,  
fire-rated glazing may provide the necessary fire rating, but only protect against  
fire from one side of the glass. This has the potential to compromise the life safety  
of building occupants if a fire starts on the non-protected side of glass. Since  
even slight performance alterations like this can weaken a building’s benefits, it’s  
important to think beyond upfront material costs and choose safety over savings.”  
Electing to use fire-rated glazing products like this  
can also help reduce lighting loads and improve  
occupant comfort, so it’s an investment that more  
design teams are finding pays off in the long run.”  
continued on page 18  
Spring 2016  
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17  
cSonotiununedd ifrnomg ptahgee17Alarm  
Auburn, Wash., says some code requirements  
accept a variety of different frames for an open-  
ing, while others provide limited options.  
“Protective-rated openings have more options  
when it comes to frames,” she says. “As these  
allow heat through and have lower minute rat-  
ings, products such as ceramic and specialty tem-  
pered glass can go into fire-rated hollow metal,  
fire-rated steel, different door lite kits and several  
other options. Fire-resistive-rated openings on the  
other hand, are meant to block against radiant  
heat and meet either ASTM E119 or ‘temperature  
rise’ requirements for doors. In this instance, the  
intumescent glass products must go in their man-  
ufacturer’s thermally broken frame assembly per  
its testing and listing. Fire-rated openings also  
often require the use of intumescent gaskets and  
intumescent glazing tape to protect against auto-  
ignition amongst the materials.”  
There to Help  
Architects are often operating under a strict  
budget. Nass says after manufacturers assist them  
in selecting the appropriate product to meet the  
code requirements, they look at options such as  
configuration, finish and glass types to keep the  
project on track financially.  
A Barrier to Fire, Not Design  
In its early stages, fire-rated glazing failed to  
provide architects the sleek, clean lines and open  
expanses of non-rated glazing systems. Today’s  
products have overcome these limitations.  
“The clarity, size and optical quality of fire-rated  
glazing has improved dramatically over the last  
decade, and architects now have a wide range of ver-  
satile fire-rated framing options at their disposal,”  
says Razwick. “Fire-rated frames are much thinner  
than in years past, and they can incorporate custom  
cover caps and surface finishes to match surround-  
ing curtainwall and door applications. Some  
advanced options even make it possible for design  
teams to achieve the smooth, frame-free aesthetic of  
non-rated silicone-glazed curtainwall systems.”  
Graff says that when the project is over budget,  
fire-rated products are among the first to be  
reviewed. However, manufacturers can assist with  
specific modifications that can help save money  
and maintain the original design intent.  
“For example, in resistive-rated openings, the  
intumescent products can sometimes be installed  
with the use of continuous steel iron angles and  
still be thermally broken, therefore eliminating  
the cost of the fire-rated framing,” she says. “In  
some cases, it is a minor adjustment in dimen-  
sions that can make all the difference. Reaching  
out to these resources will benefit everyone  
involved, as they want to keep their product on  
the project and you want to find ways to mini-  
mize cost without having to sacrifice design.”  
Razwick agrees that this collaboration is good  
for both sides.  
Fire-rated glazing  
manufacturers  
embrace the idea of  
working close with  
architects to help  
projects meet various  
performance criteria  
and cost constraints.  
The desire to have these code-driven products  
blend seamlessly into their overall design is para-  
mount,” adds Nass. “We are always looking for  
ways to minimize the compromise on the part of  
the design team/owner.” He says a variety of fin-  
ishes, glass types and other custom options can  
help architects and specifiers achieve a seamless  
design between the rated and non-rated systems.  
Grace Graff, western regional sales manager at  
Vetrotech Saint-Gobain North America in  
“In many instances, these partnerships prove  
beneficial for both parties, as new fire-rated glazing  
products are often born from conversations about  
a product that does not yet exist,” he says. AGG  
Nick St. Denis is the editor of Architects’  
Guide to Glass & Metal. He can be reached at  
nstdenis@glass.com.  
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