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Wired safety glass… it’s time for change

Georgian wired glass still remains a popular fire safety glass product within many settings, such as schools and hospitals, often installed on a ‘like for like’ basis. However, its current global shortage means that glazing contractors and installers may have to look elsewhere for their fire safety glass needs. Here, Steve Goodburn, Business Development Director at Pyroguard explores the current challenge facing the market and the alternative solutions available to make for a positive change.

Georgian Wired Glass Door

It’s no secret that there is a current global shortage of Georgian wired glass, affecting supply chains all around the world, with stockists soon to run out – if they haven’t already.

Wired glass is an imported product, manufactured in Japan. With the manufacturers having recently changed the wire mesh component in their glass production process, the product is having to be re-tested and re-validated – a process that, rightly so, takes time. As a result, current forecasts are suggesting that new wired glass may not become available until June 2023. With some door manufacturers producing thousands of fire doors every week, this is clearly a timescale that the market cannot wait for.

Instead, glazing contractors and fabricators are having to look elsewhere for their cuttable fire safety glass needs. Despite having been around for many a decade, wired glass is still a common building product, used within our schools, hospitals and local authority housing, particularly in the fire doors and stairwell areas. While building refurbishments are a common application, being replaced on a like-for-like basis, wired glass is also used on new construction projects too.

Wired Safety Glass Alternatives 

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is that there are alternative solutions out there. In fact, these alternatives could mark the start of a positive change for the industry.

Wired safety glass, while it can and does meet the required fire safety and impact resistance regulations, is a historic product – perhaps even the original fire safety glass. In the decades since its development, the market and industry has moved on, with new research and technological developments resulting in the rise of fire safety glass solutions that offer and deliver more, meaning that people don’t have to sacrifice on aesthetics for fire protection.

Of course, wired glass does have its advantages – it’s often viewed as an entry-level product, and, until now, was always readily available. Thanks to the wire mesh, it’s also easy to visually identify as an entry level safety glass product, although that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a fire safety product. That said, it is also prone to various misconceptions, both by the general public and those within the glass industry. The presence of metal wire may make people automatically view it as a stronger product, or as an example of security glass – neither is the case, with wired glass often only having an impact resistance rating of 3B3 to EN12600.

Instead, there are clear cuttable fire safety glasses available that can offer the same or greater level of protection. Wired fire safety glass offers the base E level classification, meaning that it stops flames and smoke penetrating through to the unexposed side. Now, glazing fabricators and contractors can substitute this for clear fire safety glass with the EW classification, delivering radiant heat reduction too. You can also achieve a higher impact rating and light transmission value, providing added levels of performance on all levels.

Thanks to advancements in the industry, by making the switch to clear glass people can take advantage of the multi-functional capabilities of fire safety glass, including decoration. For example, it’s possible to have patterned versions of the clear glass, as well as the option to sandblast it for manifestation, or have the glass supplied in a satin format.

Pyroguard’s Alternatives to Wired Safety Glass

Both Pyroguard Rapide and Pyroguard Firesafe offer greatly improved alternatives to basic wired glass. Pyroguard Rapide is a cuttable product that provides integrity and radiant heat reduction for 30 minutes and is available on short lead times from a UK-wide network of stockists. While Pyroguard Firesafe is a modified toughened safety glass, which can provide EW30-EW60, as well as a 1C1 impact rating – the superior level of safety.

While on the surface this may be a worrying and challenging time for the glass supply chain, it can also be seen as a force for positive change. By taking advantage of the technological advancements in recent years and the range of new products available, we can help make our buildings even safer than before, all without the need to compromise on aesthetics.

In a time of market uncertainty, by turning to leading suppliers – such as Pyroguard – glazing processors and contractors can successfully manage their supply chains as they navigate this period of change.

With over 30 years’ industry experience and technical know-how, Pyroguard’s team are available to help you find the right fire safety glass product for your requirements.

For more information, please contact us.

You’re in safe hands

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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