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Fire safety glass around the world

As the largest independent global provider of fire safety glass solutions, Pyroguard has decades of experience when it comes to exporting their products for use within international construction projects.

Here, Steve Goodburn, Pyroguard’s Business Development Director explores some of the key challenges encountered when working on projects in different countries and territories and the various factors to consider.

Fire has no boundaries. It’s because of this that fire safety and passive fire protection are critical, wherever you are in the world. One example of this is compartmentation: a process whereby a building or structure is designed and separated into individual fire-safe compartments through the installation of specific fire-resistant systems such, as fire doors, windows and partition walls. As well as helping to safely contain and limit the spread of a fire, compartmentation can also provide both a building’s occupants with a safe escape route and protected access for firefighters should the worst-case scenario happen.

A local understanding

In relation to fire safety, perhaps the first thing to consider and be aware of when approaching an international project is a country’s local conditions and level of fire safety awareness, as this can greatly influence the required and adopted level of fire regulations.

In countries and communities like India where you see densely packed and heavily populated areas, fire can present a different challenge and pose an even greater risk to buildings and life; requiring special consideration from a passive fire protection point of view. With buildings packed very tightly together and many people to evacuate, a blaze now has the potential to spread incredibly quickly, causing catastrophic damage and a large number of fatalities. In cities especially, traffic can also be chaotic. For example, the traffic jams in Delhi are an everyday occurrence, making it a real challenge for the Indian Fire Service to reach the site of a blaze quickly, resulting in longer response times and a greater reliance on the performance of fire safety systems.

Climate

Another factor to consider is a region’s weather and climate. With fire safety glass now being used in more external building envelope applications, as well as the typical internal installations, there are additional climatic factors to consider. One of those is understanding how the glass will perform under different climatic conditions, and its overall integrity when exposed in the longer term to external elements.

While the UK may be known for its mediocre seasons, in other countries temperature can be a very real issue. For example, in the Middle East, high season temperatures can often reach in excess of 45oC, presenting project teams with significant challenges. Here, the choice of an appropriate, high-quality solar control glazed system is crucial, not just for the thermal values but also to ensure that the whole project and every unit is suitable for the intended position and application.

Cold temperatures can be just as challenging, with the mercury in Scandinavia capable of plummeting to sub-zero temperatures. This can present a whole different set of issues around transportation, packaging, storage on site and of course, final installation performance. With both these scenarios in mind, partnering with an established global fire safety glass provider who has both local knowledge and sound industry expertise is vital.

Security

Security is another area of increasing demand, not just here in the UK but all around the world. Vandalism and burglary offences can occur everywhere and anywhere; while sadly, terror attacks and civil unrest remain a continuous concern globally. As such, multi-functional options and capabilities with fire safety glass are becoming increasingly important and relevant, with specifiers wanting more from a glazing system – including high-performance anti-attack and bullet resistant systems and counterpanes for additional security and extra peace-of-mind. For example, in the UK Secured by Design is becoming more prevalent in the design of social housing and tower blocks.

Fire Safety Standards

Generally speaking, there is a clear increase in fire safety standards on an international scale, which in light of recent disasters is a natural response and only positive to see. Of course, when it comes to fire safety regulations, those countries experiencing rapid infrastructural growth are having to develop their approach faster than others; such as India, the Middle East and Singapore. As a result, when it comes to fire regulations and building standards, these can vary dramatically from region to region.

In the UK we follow the European Standards and have three classifications of fire safety glass (E, EW and EI). However, this can differ as you travel into different markets and countries. In the Middle East, for example, you can see both the European and American Standards being adopted, with the latter requiring the American Hose Stream test to be observed. It is also interesting to see how developing regions are adopting other countries’ established standards as a benchmark for their own – perhaps in part due to large, international businesses moving into these regions.

Ultimately, while you can travel around the world, the fundamental principles of fire safety glass regulations and test evidence remain the same. Compartmentation also remains key, helping to limit the spread of fire and provide occupants with both the time and the route needed to evacuate.

Fire safety glass around the world

It’s clear that approaching projects in different countries and extreme climates (particularly with the added demands of climate change) can be a major challenge. Ultimately though, fire is fire – it knows no boundaries and it’s in the detail to ensure that compartmentation solutions work and are effective for the individual building or structure in question. To deliver this, you need a fire safety glass supplier with global expertise. At Pyroguard, we have decades of industry experience and technical know-how, as well as the largest portfolio of solutions. Large enough to cope, yet small enough to care, we are always ready to help customers with their project challenges – wherever in the world that might be!

For further information or support on your next project, please contact us.

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