Getting the right type of fire rated glass in the right application can be tricky. The codes can be difficult to decipher, and many times architects and specifiers put in fire protective glass instead of fire resistive, or they use hollow metal framing when fire resistive framing is required, or they install unsafe wired glass in a place considered “hazardous,” meaning someone might run into it and break it.
Here are the top five, most common code mistakes that designers and contractors make in using fire rated glass and framing.
The vision panel is too large. Prior to the 2012 IBC, there was an exception that allowed large fire protective vision panels in fire doors used in exit enclosures and passageways when the building was fully sprinklered. The new 2012 IBC removes the sprinkler exception. Sprinklers can and do fail. Large door vision panels (in excess of 100 sq. in.) must be fire resistive glass. Wired glass, ceramics and other fire protective glazing used in fire doors may not exceed 100 sq. in. Read more
Unsafe wired glass is placed in a hazardous location. Today’s model building codes prohibit the use of “traditional wired” glass in hazardous locations like doors, sidelites, and any location that requires safety. Wired glass is not safety glass. Read more
Hollow metal framing is used instead of fire resistive framing, which means the entire assembly fails to meet code. Building owners, architects, general contractors and subcontractors should confirm that the tested and listed performance capabilities of the framing system match those of the glazing in order to avoid a costly mistake. Simply put, the glass and framing in an assembly must meet the same code requirements. Read more
Sidelites and transoms are the wrong type of fire rated glass. When the code requires fire doors rated 1-hour or more, then the sidelites and transoms around that door must be fire resistive and rated to the same standard as the wall. Sidelites and transoms around a 20-minute fire door in a 1-hour exit require a 45-minute fire rating with hose stream. Read more
There is fire protective glass on more than 25% of the wall. 45-minute fire protective windows are permitted in a 1-hour exit corridor, up to a maximum of 25% of the wall area. If a designer wishes to use more glazing then 1-hour fire resistive glazing, like SuperLite II-XL 60, should be used to meet code requirements. Read more
To avoid these mistakes, use fire resistive glass and framing to create large vision panels, place fire rated glass in hazardous locations, and add transparency to sidelites, transoms and walls. Below are some photos of code-compliant fire resistive fire rated glass applications.