Fire rated glass is installed for one purpose and one purpose only: to protect you from fire on the other side of the material. That being said, it’s very important that you know what you’re buying when you purchase this glass for your home or business. All fire rated glazings are not made equal. Different materials have different fire ratings and can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours when exposed to the harsh conditions of a major fire. Depending on your needs, it’s important that you inform yourself on the differences between materials so you get the right product for you.
Fire Detection, Fire Suppression, Fire Containment, and Fire Rated Glass
There are three main forms of dealing with fires in homes and businesses. The first line of defense is fire detection, including fire alarms and smoke alarms. The second is fire suppression, which includes fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems. The third, and most reliable, is fire containment. To put it simply, fire detection and fire suppression systems can fail. Fire containment, on the other hand, is built to withstand a major fire regardless of advance warning. With that in mind, fire containment strategies such as installing a fire rated window and glass can be the most important and reliable form of fire protection you can introduce into your home.
Fire Rated Glass, Fire Ratings, and the Hose Stream Test
There are two ways that a fire rated window gets approved as fire safe glass. The first is through a heat test. The glass is exposed to a furnace that generates temperatures up to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit, and ratings are given based on the time the glass lasts before fails. Fire ratings range from 20 minutes to three hours, and the longer a window lasts, the better. The other test fire rated glass is exposed to is “the hose stream test.” In the hose stream test, a high pressure stream of water is sprayed on the glass after it is exposed to heat. Glass that passes the “hose stream test” holds fast, even during this extreme change in temperature. Less stout material shatters with the thermal shock. Keep in mind that fire safe glass doesn’t have to pass the hose stream test, though if you’re looking for a material that holds fast even in the face of fire departments and sprinkler systems, this designation is a must.
Why Install Fire Rated Glass?
There are several reasons to install fire proof glass, starting with visibility. All walls are considered fire retardant, however they provide little help when it comes to seeing how severe or imminent the fire danger really is. The second reason to install this glass is to provide safety and openness at the same time. Modern home designs feature more open floor plans and open areas than ever before. Fire rated glass offers homeowners the option of embracing that aesthetic while still maintaining sound fire barriers. Finally, many of the newer varieties of fire glass are also impact resistant, making them an effective security solution to boot.
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Types of Fire Rated Glass
With advancing technology, there are several types of fire rated windows available for homeowners and businesses looking to install fire retardant glass. The four most common alternatives are wired glass, glass ceramics, tempered glass, and transparent wall units. For residential applications, glass ceramics is your best bet. It comes with ratings of 20 minutes up to 3 hours, and it can pass the home stream test. As good as glass ceramics are, however, transparent wall units may be the real wave of the future. These “glass” walls don’t transfer heat at all, can be installed in large sections, and provide the greatest combination of visibility and fire protection of any fire glass option.
If you’re interested in fire retardant glass in your home, talk to a retailer and installer who specializes in their installation. This isn’t your average material, so you don’t want to hire an average contractor to do the job. Instead, make sure you hire it out to a specialist who knows what they’re doing so you can trust that your new fire proof glass will do what it’s supposed to do: protect you and your family from the dangers associated with a major fire.