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5 Code Requirements to Consider for Fire Glazing Applications

5 Code Requirements to Consider for Fire Glazing Applications
Fire-rated glass is a building product designed to perform a specific life safety function – which is it protects people and property in the event of a fire.  Because of this, the IBC has laid out guidelines for its use and its limitations. These guidelines can be seen in Chapter 7 of the IBC.  

Let this article guide why it’s essential to be aware of code limitations around fire glazing applications and how you can properly apply them.

5 Code Requirements to Consider for Fire Glazing Applications

Fire-protective glazing only blocks flames and smoke, not radiant heat. This inability is the reason why all fire-protective glazing has limitations. Let us discuss the following code limitations and why it’s vital to source fire-rated glass that meets these code limitations.

1. 60-, 90-, and 180-minute fire-protective vision panels in doors are limited to 100 sq in.

Table 716.1(2) of the 2021 IBC contains size limits for fire-protective vision panels in 60-, 90-, and 180-minute doors. If the vision panel is fire-protective glass, like safety ceramic and safety-wired glass, its size is limited and should not exceed more than 100 sq in., regardless of whether sprinklers are present or not.

To augment the amount of fire-rated glass in 60-, 90-, and 180-minute temperature-rise doors and still adhere to the code limitations, you must utilize fire-resistive glazing that meets ASTM E119/UL 263. This fire test response criterion establishes the duration for which a specific installation or material can contain a fire.

2. Sidelites and transoms are limited to a maximum of 45-minute rating

Door assemblies that consist of sidelites, transoms, or both are granted a 45-minute protection rating or less. For fire door assemblies with sidelites, transoms, or both that exceed a 45-minute rating, it is typically required to use fire-resistance-rated glazing so that the whole fire door assembly meets minimum code standards. 

Additionally, transoms and sidelites placed in a one- (1) or two- (2) hour fire door and wall assembly in an exit enclosure, exit passageway, or shaft must have fire-resistive glazing equal to the rating of the wall

3. Interior 45-minute fire protective openings in 1-hour corridors are limited to 25% of the wall area

For interior separations, 20-45-minute fire-protection-rated is only allowed a one (1) hour-rated fire barrier for incidental use, mixed occupancy separations, or in-fire partitions limited to 25% of the wall area. In fire-protective applications that are 45 minutes or less, the glazing preserves its integrity and contains flame and smoke but does not avert heat transmission. 

The threat of radiant heat and spontaneous combustion is minimized in these 45 minutes or fewer areas because the glazing is utilized in openings where the size is less than 25% of the wall. To exceed the 25% size limitation, fire resistive glazing tested to ASTM E-119/UL 263 must be used.

4. The fire-rated glass used in doors, sidelites, and other hazardous locations must meet CPSC impact safety requirements

In 2016, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) amended the Safety Standard for Architectural Glazing Materials to replace the testing procedures for glazing in specific architectural products with more up-to-date methods contained in the ANSI Z97.1-2015 voluntary standard.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) established specifications and testing methods for the safety characteristics of glazing materials used in construction and architecture. The tests for safety glazing materials in the ANSI standard include impact safety requirements.

All glazing, including fire-rated glass, must meet ANSI Z97.1 testing when used in doors, sidelites, and other hazardous locations outlined in Chapter 24 of the IBC which provided three (3) impact categories for testing:

  1. 400-foot-pound impact test or CPSC Cat. II for individual glazing panel sizes exceeding 1,296 sq. in.
  2. 150-foot-pound impact test or CPSC Cat. I for individual glazing panel sizes up to 1,296 sq. in.

An Impact test is imperative as it determines the amount of energy absorbed by a material during fracture. The absorbed energy measures a given material’s toughness. It serves as a tool to study the temperature-dependent brittle-ductile transition, determining whether the material is brittle or ductile.

Note that traditional unfilmed wired glass or ceramics cannot meet the CPSC Cat without films or lamination I requirement, and therefore cannot be used in doors, sidelites, and other hazardous locations.

5. Exterior walls can have fire-protective openings depending on fire separation distance

The fire-resistance rating for exterior walls hinges on occupancy, construction type, and fire separation distance. Fire resistance requirements range from no required rating to three (3) hours. Meanwhile, exterior walls are generally rated based on structural requirements and interior occupancy usage.

However, it is stated that exterior walls less than 10 feet from the property line must have a fire-resistance rating based on the proximity to adjacent buildings and interior occupancy conditions; Table 705.5 of the 2021 IBC specifies this in more detail.

Exterior walls may or may not have openings depending on the fire separation. When and if permitted, the codes imposed by the IBC distinguish between openings deemed “protected,” like windows, shutters, and fire-rated doors, and unprotected, which entails no fire rating.

Note that in zero lot line requirements or when the fire separation distance is less than 3 feet, fire resistive glazing tested to ASTM E-119/UL 263 and rated equal to the wall can be used. This is because the code treats this product as a wall instead of an opening.  

If you wish to learn more, check out SAFTI FIRST’s piece on The IBC and Exterior Fire Rated Openings.

Knowledge for Safety

Safety is vital, especially when undertaking projects that require delicate materials like fire-rated glass. It’s essential to do extensive research before availing any product to ensure quality and safety.  Be informed about the various code limitations regarding fire glazing applications, and make sure you enlist the help of reputable fire-rated glass and framing manufacturers like SAFTI FIRST. 

SAFTI FIRST manufactures USA-made fire-rated glazing solutions that meet minimum requirements as specified in the IBC and other building codes.

Contact us today to learn how our fire-rated glazing solutions can provide safety without compromising aesthetics.

Do you have a current or upcoming project that needs fire rated glass and framing? Contact us today!