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Top of the class fire safety glass

Amidst a school blaze, effective fire protection measures should provide a means of escape for staff, students and visitors and enable safe access for the emergency services.

Marr College - Fire Safety Glass Case Study

Here, Andy Lake, UK Sales Director at Pyroguard, explains why replacing ordinary glazing with high-performance fire safety glass can improve a building’s fire protection strategy and how to ensure the correct product is selected.

Glass plays an integral role in educational facilities. Whether it’s the bridge that spans the library atrium, doors and windows in classrooms and corridors or screens and partitions being used as an alternative to solid walls, glazing fulfils many architectural design ambitions. However, in the event of a fire, ordinary glass cannot withstand the flames and high heat that is generated, therefore posing a serious danger to both people and property.

Guidance on the required levels of fire resistance in compartments is outlined in national building regulations, such as Approved Document B in England. The classifications specified in the documentation denote the level of protection a passive fire protection system must be able to resist the spread of flames and heat in different areas of a building. Incorporating fire resistant safety glass as a means of compartmentation will therefore enable facilities to achieve modern and aesthetically pleasing designs, whilst complying with strict safety codes.

Fire safety glass should be installed where fire protection is of utmost importance, such as in common areas, staircases and along escape routes. This will extend the time allowed for safe evacuation while providing ease of access for fire service personnel. It is recommended that architects and specifiers, as well as schools, colleges and universities, work together with fire glass specialists to carefully assess the building’s current glazing installations and where necessary, replace ordinary panes with fire safety glass in order to attain its fire protection strategy.

Existing (or new) fire test evidence will allow an evaluation of the current frame in-situ, its suitability for re-glazing and to ensure the correct solution is installed. It is important to recognise that fire safety glass is not a stand-alone product, it will only perform as intended if it is correctly installed within a proven total system, including the frame, intumescent strips and any other components. Therefore, depending on the existing frame, it may be safer and more cost-effective to replace both the glass and the frame with a fully fire tested and approved system.

The right classification
Fire safety glass is manufactured in a number of different ways, depending on the required properties and performance level. There are three different classification levels: E (Integrity), EW (Integrity & Radiation) or EI (Integrity & Insulation).

Category E offers the base level of fire performance. When exposed to a fire, it prevents flames and smoke from penetrating through the unexposed side. It does not, however, stop the transmission of heat through the glass. Like integrity glass (E), EW classification maintains the same level of protection against smoke and flame but in addition, will also deliver a reduction in the amount of heat transmitted to the protected side. Finally, EI-rated fire glass offers the greatest level of protection against flames, smoke and additionally insulation, significantly reducing direct passage of transferred heat from the fire.

While the type of protection offered is determined by the product’s classification, the length of time which this protection can be maintained will vary. Applications within educational facilities typically require anything from 30 minutes integrity and radiation to 60 minutes integrity and insulation. In addition, fire safety glass should be impact resistant. As students push, press and slam their way through corridors and hallways, make sure that the glass specified has also been certified impact resistant. 1B1 impact resistance offers the highest level of protection.

With reports revealing that larger fires in school buildings cost on average £2.8 million to repair, it is imperative that effective measures are taken to avoid the spread of fires. By replacing ordinary glazing with fire safety glass, this is the first step to additional safeguarding. Decision makers should look to leading manufacturers, such as Pyroguard, who have expert technical specification teams on hand that can assist you in understanding how best to meet performance criteria and selecting the right Pyroguard solution for your project.

For more information about Pyroguard’s solutions or to contact the team please contact us.

Further reading

Fire door insight from ‘the door guy’: a Q&A

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Combine performance and aesthetics, with the help of our new Smokeguard brochure

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Clearing up the confusion: changes in fire-safety regulations and the implications for glass in high-rise balconies

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