A Brief History
In recent years the expansion of technology in glazing has produced brilliant fire-rated glazing components that comply with the required safety regulations but do not interfere with the architect's aesthetic vision for a space or building.
Normal toughened glass does not offer adequate fire resistance for required escape routes. These glass elements will shatter at 250°C which will be reached within 2-3 minutes of a fire break out in a building.
In the past, if vision was needed through a fire screen, small vision holes of wired glass were used. These panes could only be very small in size as the glass was not impact resistant and would break and shatter with very minimal force.
Modern fire-rated glazing components such as glass screens are both fire resistant and impact resistant, meeting all aspects of safety. Fire resistant glazed assemblies stop the spread of fire by creating fire compartments where the fire can be contained, limiting the spread of the fire to keep escape routes clear and enabling swift firefighting.
These fire resistant screens also allow clear vision through the glass element making it easier to detect the fire hazard and ensuring that nothing or no one is left behind.
Fully Fire Rated Glass Systems
In terms of fire safety with glass, the actual fire-rated glazing is just one part of a fully fire-resistant system.
This includes framework, hinges, components, handles etc. which all need to be fire rated, tested and approved to the various fire ratings. Traditionally Fire rated framing needed to be in steel or hardwood timber to achieve sufficient fire resistance in the framing profiles. These have their downsides in terms of profile thickness and finish appearances.
A brand new technology exclusive to IQ Glass means that you can get a complete fire rated system in a slim, contemporary, Aluminium framework which is much preferred in most architectural projects. Watch this space for more information on this fantastic new product!
As well as smoke and gas, fire gives out radiant heat. These invisible and intense waves of energy travel through the air, beyond the reach of the fire. When they strike an object this radiant energy is absorbed and converted into heat. So even if an area is protected by a fire resistant material, if there are combustible items on the non-fire side of the partition these items can auto-ignite, allowing the spread of the fire beyond the fire resistant partitioning.
Glass Fire Screens and other fire-rated glazing systems can be specified to limit the amount of radiant heat that is able to travel through the system, therefore reducing the spread of fire and the safety of escape routes.
IQ also offer Fire Rated glazing for Commercial Projects which you can learn more about at our IQ Projects commercial glazing website
Fire resistance categories are broken down into three sectors:
Integrity: These glass elements stop flame, smoke and gas from travelling through the glazing system but will not limit the amount of radiant heat transfer over the materials. E-Class systems can be used in places where quick evacuation is achievable and where there are no combustible materials on the non-fire side of the glass.
Partial Insulation: These glass systems with stop flame, smoke and gas travel but will also reduce the amount of radiant heat that can travel through the glazed element. EW fire rated glazing systems can reduce radiant heat transfer to 15KW/m2 at 1m distance from the glazing.
Full Insulation: As well as stopping flame, smoke and gases EI Class systems act as a barrier to radiant heat and reduces the radiant energy to 1KW/m2 at 1m from the glazing. This means you could stand on the glass directly opposite the fire and feel no increase in heat, giving complete fire safety from the glazed element. All ratings are described in terms of insulation or integrity length of time from 30 minutes to 2 hours (120 minutes).
IQ's brand new and exclusive Aluflam range offer fire protection in the EI-Class, giving maximum fire protection and insulation from 30 to 120 minutes.
Rebecca is the Communications Director at the IQ Group and has worked in glazing specification for many years. She has a broad range of technical knowledge about all our glazing products and offers technical advice and guidance to architects for specification. Her easy to digest technical advice is often quoted in magazines and publications. You might also recognise her as one of the IQ Glass CPD presenters.