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Beyond wired safety glass: Embracing modern fire safety solutions

Whilst it remains a popular solution for many settings like schools or hospitals, Georgian wired glass is in short supply globally, meaning many specifiers are having to look for alternative solutions on the market.

Here, Steve Goodburn, our Business Development Director explores the current supply chain challenges and the alternatives available to those looking to make a positive change.

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Despite having been around for many years, wired glass is still a fairly common building product, used within schools, hospitals and local authority housing, mainly throughout the fire doors, stairwell areas and lobbies. Building refurbishments are another common application, with wired glass being replaced on a like-for-like basis.

An imported product, Georgian wired glass has recently seen a change to the wire mesh component within its glass production process, requiring re-testing and re-validation of the product to ensure it is safe for use – a process that, rightly so, takes time. To combat this, architects and specifiers are having to look elsewhere for their cuttable fire safety glass.

Fortunately, there are alternatives available out there. In fact, these alternatives may well mark the start of a positive change for the industry as a whole.

A brief history of wired safety glass

Whilst wired safety glass does meet all relevant fire safety and impact resistance regulations, it is fundamentally a historic product – in fact, some might say it’s the original fire safety glass. Since it’s conception many decades ago, the market and industry has moved forwards, with new research and technological developments resulting in the creation of high-performance fire safety solutions that offer and deliver even more. Ultimately, the result is that architects and specifiers no longer have to compromise on aesthetics for fire protection anymore, with fire safety glass products available that deliver the same high-quality appearance and light transmittance values as you would expect from standard glazing.

All of that said, wired glass does have its advantages. For one, it is viewed as an entry-level product and, until recently, has always been readily available. Additionally, due to the wire mesh used, it is easily identifiable as a safety glass product. The important distinction here is that the wire doesn’t necessarily make it a fire safety solution. This is a common misconception, both by those within the industry and also the general public, with people assuming that the metal wire present means it is therefore a stronger product, or is an example of security glass. Neither of which is the case, with wired glass only having an impact resistance rating of 3B3, according to EN12600.

A modern fire safety glass solution

Following market developments, there are now clear cuttable fire safety glasses present on the market that can offer the same or even a greater level of protection. While wired safety glass offers the base E level classification, meaning it stops flames and smoke penetrating through to the exposed side, clear fire safety glass can go one step further, delivering EW classification – meaning it reduces radiant heat too. This provides architects and specifiers with a viable substitute for the popular, go-to choice of wired glass, one that will exceed expectations. In fact, clear fire safety glass can even achieve higher impact ratings, light transmission values and provide added levels of performance across all dimensions.

Perhaps then the shortage of Georgian wired glass is a positive change for the industry, encouraging architects, specifiers and contractors to look instead at more modern alternatives. In fact, making the switch to clear glass can enable people to take full advantage of the multi-functional capabilities of fire safety glass. These include the ability to decorate the glass, with patterned versions, sandblasting for manifestation, or even to have the glass supplied in a satin format.

While this change to the glass supply chain may initially look worrying, it should also be seen as a big step forwards for development. With new technological advancements in recent years, new products are available which can help to make our buildings safer than ever before, without having to let architectural value and aesthetics be compromised.

Contact us to find out more.

Further reading

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