As Featured in Pro Installer Magazine - 05/18
Kristian Chalmers UK & Ireland marketing manager at Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, part of the NSG Group, offers her top tips for installers when using fire-resistant glass.
In every type of building, from commercial offices and shops to homes, glass is increasingly being deployed to partition spaces where concrete, bricks and mortar or plasterboard might previously have been used.
This has created a need for glass to be able to provide resistance to the spread of fire, and technology has advanced rapidly to allow glazing in more and more applications. But choosing the right system for the job in every scenario is essential.
Here are our top tips for installing, choosing and specifying fire-resistant glass.
Know your regulations
Guidance for the levels of fire resistance when glass is positioned in different areas within a building is provided in publications such as Approved Document B (AD B) in England, which may be affected by the outcome of the Hackitt Review.
The purpose of these minimum requirements is to ensure that fire is contained within the room or space of origin, and that the spread of smoke and flames is inhibited by compartmentation. This will ensure that occupants, and the emergency services, have time to evacuate safely.
The partitions separating compartments must achieve specific periods of fire resistance, and so the fire resistance performance of any glazing in such walls is crucial.
The minimum times specified in AD B denote how long the partitions – as well an any doors they contain - must be able to resist the spread of flames and heat.
These times are provided in terms of integrity – the length of time for which the glass will provide a physical barrier to flames and smoke – and insulation, the ability of the glass to contain heat energy generated by the fire.
Any glass integrated into the partition must fully meet these criteria. The requirements vary according to the height and purpose of the building, which includes residential, office, commercial, assembly and recreation and industrial, as well as location in the building.
Another key consideration for installers is ensuring that the glass is visibly marked with the appropriate safety mark, so that building control officers can easily see that it conforms to standards such as BS 6262-4. In the case of fire-protection glass, it is recommended that the mark should include a reference to its fire resistance rating.
Ensure the whole system is fit for purpose
The effectiveness of a glazed partition or door is determined not only by the properties of the glass itself, but by the combined performance of the whole installed system. As well as the glass, the frame, glazing materials and fixing method are also critical.
It’s essential to check that there is fire test evidence for the exact combination of products and installation methods that is being used, including pane sizes, and that there are no deviations or changes to the certified system during the installation process. The system should not be installed without supporting evidence.
Be mindful of surrounding buildings
Building regulations specify the amount of resistance to fire that external walls need to be able to provide to prevent fire spreading from one building to the next. These are, again, measured in terms of integrity.
Fire-rated glazing is a good option in cases where two buildings are very close together, as it can deliver enough of a barrier to fire spreading outwards from the building.
This can make a big difference. As well as sealing in flames and smoke for a range of times, dependent upon the system, fire-resistant glass also provides shielding against heat radiation, reducing the amount of heat energy that can pass through the glass – another key way fire spreads, aiding evacuation.
Bring the light in
Daylight-flooded spaces are increasingly in demand, but in the densest urban areas – where buildings are very tightly packed – it can sometimes be difficult to achieve.
Fire-resistant glazing can, however, provide protection against fire while also letting daylight flow in, meaning light-filled spaces can be created in very built-up parts of the city where just a few years ago this wouldn’t have been possible.
Where insulation against fire is required, Pilkington Pyrostop® - a multi-layer laminated glass comprising intumescent interlayers sandwiched in between glass layers – can provide a thermal barrier to the spread of fire for up to three hours. The interlayers activate on exposure to heat, causing the glass to expand and turn opaque, providing a barrier to both conduction and radiation of heat.
Where integrity-only glass is required, Pilkington Pyroclear®, a product with options for 30 and 60 minutes protection, is the ideal choice.
With fire safety in building design high on the agenda, ensuring glazing systems used to partition spaces are fit for purpose is essential. Installers and specifiers should ensure they stay up-to-date with the latest innovations and trends in glazing products to give their customers the safest, smartest choice of glass.