Volume 45, Issue 7 - July 2010

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ICC Updates Glass Codes
ICC Holds Its 2010 Final Action Hearings
By Megan Headley and Ellen Rogers



The International Code Council (ICC) held its final action code hearings May 15-23 in Dallas, leading to several changes in how glass is labeled, where it can be installed and other issues. The approved updates will be released as part of the 2012 version of the International Codes, available in April 2011, while some of those disapproved changes may return in the next cycle of change proposals.

Fire-Rated Glazing Labels
Among the code changes that ICC approved during the hearings was a proposal that mandates, among other things, how fire-rated glazing products are to be marked (FS107).

The proposal is the result of research by ICC’s Code Technology Committee (CTC) on the contentious topic of fire-rated glazing marking (see August 2008 USGlass, page 32, to learn more on the work leading up to this decision).

New to the section is table 715.3, which sets the procedure for marking fire-rated glazing assemblies (see table below).

In their reasoning in favor of the proposed change, proponents Paul K. Heilstedt, PE, FAIA, representing the CTC, and William F. O’Keeffe, representing SAFTI FIRST, explained that the study group consisting of fire-rated glazing manufacturers, code officials, architects and engineers agreed that the existing markings were causing confusion. “It was recognized by the study group that the existing marking system, as those marks were designated in product listings, was leading to fire protection products in applications not allowed by the IBC,” the code change proposal stated.

While the designations “W,” “OH,” “D,” “DT,” “DH” and “XXX” used to mark fire-rated glazing remain as they were originally adopted in the 2004 code cycle, the marking of fire-rated glazing in fire door assemblies (D) are simplified, according to the proponents, by deleting the NH designation (not hose stream tested) and the NT designation (not temperature rise tested). It is clarified that those designations correspond to test standards, not end uses.

In addition, all text provision used to define and relate test standards to marking designations were deleted in favor of including all of the required marking provisions in table form. This change is intended to provide code officials with easy access to the information needed when inspecting installations, including required marking designations. In connection with this change, several columns were added to tables 715.4 and 715.5. These additions specify the designations that officials will need to look for when inspecting fire-rated glazing.

The size limitation provisions starting at 715.4.6.1 are re-written to eliminate the use of “exception;” no substantive changes to these provisions are intended. The proponents also determined that table 715.4 inadvertently omitted reference to 1 1/2 hour doors in shaft, exit enclosures and exit passageway walls and adds such a reference to the table.

The change proposal also stated that the marking provisions were written to clarify “that fire protection rated glazing tested to NFPA 257 and used in transoms and side lites in certain fire barriers and corridor walls will also have to be tested to NFPA 252 since they are a part of a door assembly. Accordingly, these glazings are marked D-H-OH-XXX.”

Thom Zaremba of Roetzel and Andress, representing glass manufacturers, was a member of the CTC study group. “We found that there was a simple solution … I believe FS107 represents a significant advance; where issues previously existing among fire-rated glazing industry, they have all come forward to support this,” Zaremba told the panel during the code hearings. He also noted that this proposal had been unanimously recommended for approval by the committee.

Modifying the Intersections
Also approved to the IBC’s Fire Safety section was a proposal that adds a new exception to section 714.4 on curtainwall/floor intersections (FS88); it was approved as modified. The code states currently:

Where fire resistance-rated floor or floor/ceiling assemblies are required, voids created at the intersection of the exterior curtain wall assemblies and such floor assemblies shall be sealed with an approved system to prevent the interior spread of fire. Such systems shall be securely installed and tested in accordance with ASTME 2307 to prevent the passage of flame for the time period at least equal to the fire resistance rating of the floor assembly and prevent the passage of heat and hot gases sufficient to ignite cotton waste …

A proposal from James P. Stahl Jr., representing Specified Technologies Inc., added an exception that introduces an additional standard, ASTM E119:

Voids created at the intersection of the exterior curtain wall assemblies and such floor assemblies where the vision glass extends to the finished floor level shall be permitted to be sealed with an approved material to prevent the interior spread of fire. Such material shall be securely installed and capable of preventing the passage of flame and hot gases sufficient to ignite cotton waste where subjected to ASTM E119 time-temperature fire conditions under a minimum positive pressure differential of 0.01 inch (0.254 mm) of water column (2.5 Pa) for the time period at least equal to the fire-resistance rating of the floor assembly.

Stahl says that the change reinstates an allowance that was removed in the 2009 edition of the IBC.

Opponents of the proposal expressed concern during the hearing that allowances should be made to a standard developed specifically for fire resistance protection.

Maureen Traxler, representing the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development, requested disapproval of the change. In her comments on the proposal, Traxler wrote, “The reason given for introducing the exception is ‘there is a problem for certain types of assemblies in terms of being able to meet the new performance criteria.’ In other words, the assembly shouldn’t be required to be tested because it can’t pass the test.”

Howard Hopper representing Underwriters Laboratories Inc., said that the change indicates manufacturers can pass a test instead of complying with the standard, but that no information was given about how to conduct that test appropriately.

Traxler further noted, “Testing according to ASTM E 2307 is required because there is a danger of fire lapping from floor to floor on the interior side of curtainwalls. That danger is no less when glass extends to the floor. This code change proposal should be disapproved because no technical justification was provided to show why this construction should not be required to comply with the ASTM standard.”

Despite concerns, that allowance will be reinstated.

The assembly heard other proposals regarding the intersection of exterior curtainwall and floor assemblies. FS90, which ultimately was disapproved, suggested requiring the materials used to seal the “void” between the floor and exterior wall carry a fire rating.

Jesse Beitel, representing proponents representing Centria, Trespa North America and Alcan Composites, explained during the hearing, “We have rated walls meeting rated floors, that’s fine … the biggest problem we have seen is a non-rated wall meeting a rated floor. How do you address that?” As he pointed out, one side of the product sealing that intersection will have no fire protection. “That’s what we were trying to clean up.”

Doug Evans, a fire protection engineer with Clark County, Nev., asked, “Do I really need to maintain this to the level of the slab or of the wall? If a non-rated wall fails and that stuff falls out, why is that unexpected? Do I need to make the wall 2-hour
rated too?”

The proposed change won’t be seen in the upcoming International Codes.

Code Consistency
ICC also approved as submitted a proposal that removes an exception to 715.4.4.1 on glazing in doors and allows for the use of fire resistance-rated glazing larger than 100 square inches in doors (FS100). The section, with the change, will now state:

Fire-protection-rated glazing in excess of 100 sq inches (0.065 m2) is not permitted. Fire resistance rated glazing in excess of 100 sq inches (0.065 m2) shall be permitted in fire door assemblies when tested as components of the door assemblies, and not as glass lights, and shall have a maximum transmitted temperature rise of 450° F (250° C) in accordance with 715.4.4.

O’Keeffe reasoned that the change “will make the size limits fire protection glazing in 60- and 90-minute doors in exit enclosures and passageways consistent with size limits for 60- and 90-minute doors elsewhere in the code.”

The exception that was deleted had stated:

The maximum transmitted temperature end rise is not required in buildings equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1 or 903.3.1.2.

“The presence of sprinklers in the building does not eliminate the life safety and fire spread hazard posed by unrestricted transmission of radiant heat flux through large sizes of fire protection rated glazing panels in 60- and 90-minute doors, especially when those doors are protecting exit enclosures and exit passageways deemed essential for occupant life safety,” O’Keeffe said. The ICC apparently agreed.

O’Keeffe also proposed a modified change to the method of labeling fire-rated glazing that ICC approved as submitted (FS101). The code addition states:

1703.5.4 Method of labeling. Information required to be permanently identified on the product shall be acid etched, sand blasted, ceramic fired, laser etched, embossed or of a type that, once applied, cannot be removed without being destroyed.

O’Keeffe explained that the language for providing a method of permanently identifying information required by the code on the label was taken from Section 2403.1, which applies to the permanent identification of information on glazing required by Chapter 24.

The assembly approved as modified by a comment a proposal that clarified language in section 715.5 by changing references to glazing and fire windows to “fire window assemblies” (FS102). O’Keeffe explained that this proposal clarifies “that fire protection-rated window assemblies are subject to area limits. Since there are some window assemblies that are fire resistance rated to ASTM E119, this code change aids the user in clarifying that fire protection rated window assemblies are subject to these limits.”

A Familiar Proposal
A proposal from SAFTI FIRST that would have permitted testing of a 20-minute door assembly, including sidelites and transoms, to NFPA 252 without a hose stream test when the assembly is in a half-hour rated corridor or fire partition (FS97) was disapproved during the hearings.

According to O’Keeffe, the change proposal’s proponent, “Since a half-hour wall tested to ASTM E119 is not required to be hose stream tested, there is no fire safety reason to require the door assembly component in that wall to meet a hose stream test.”

| “In an assembly that is not required to pass hose stream test there should be no need for the transom and side lites to pass hose stream test,” concurred Jeff Inks with the Window and Door Manufacturers Alliance.

O’Keeffe and other proponents of the change pointed to the lack of data showing instances of failure of 20-minute products.

“There isn’t going to be any data because this simply isn’t the way it’s been done,” Zaremba noted. He added that the issue had been overwhelmingly voted down during the 2009 cycle.

Inks countered, “There is no data to show that there’s a need to require the hose stream test for these 20-minute assemblies … Just because it’s in the code doesn’t mean it’s justified to be there,” he added.

No Changes for Fire-Rating Corridors
ICC disapproved a proposed change to the IBC Means of Egress section that would have mandated both automatic sprinklers and one-hour fire-rated exit corridors be used in educational occupancies with fire areas greater than 12,000 square feet (E113).

Educational occupancies with fire areas less than 12,000 square feet (typically small, schools often in rural areas) are not required to include automatic sprinkler systems, though 1-hour fire-rated exit corridors are required. In fire areas exceeding 12,000 square feet, however, the code does require the installation of automatic sprinklers, but the 1-hour fire-rated exit corridor requirement is eliminated.

In disapproving the action, the committee reasoned that removing the trade-off for sprinklers versus fire-rated corridors would result in many more schools being designed without sprinklers. According to the committee:

Sprinklered schools are safer during a fire event than schools with rated corridors. The antidotal data vs. the NFPA data does not justify the significant increase in the cost of construction. In addition there will be issues with maintaining the fire resistance rating of the walls especially to automatic closers on the doors being in-place and functional. The fire doors with automatic closers will be a problem for access to classrooms. This would also require rated corridors in day care facilities, which would be excessive …

The committee further noted that the change proponents continually referred to the possibility of a fire event during a lockdown situation, which led the committee to rule:

Rating of a corridor is a means of egress issue, not a security issue … If there is a concern for a fire event during a lock-down that needs to be addressed with the emergency responders in the fire and safety evacuation plans, not through a corridor rating.
In addition, there are other safety concerns in schools. Schools commonly have doors with vision panels and side lites for observation of the classrooms and student/teacher interaction. Requiring rated doors at these locations would either significantly raise the costs for the opening protective and/or result in solid doors without this necessary observation feature.


The code hearing committee likewise disapproved a proposal to require Category III and IV buildings in hurricane prone and seismic areas to include 1-hour fire resistance rated corridors (E114).

The code hearing committee reasoned:

Buildings in earthquake and hurricane areas are already designed to a higher standard, therefore this rated corridor requirement is not needed. Structural robustness is not related to fire-resistance-rated corridors.

ICC OK’s Glass Doors in Atrium Walls
The IBC’s General Code section saw some changes as well; ICC approved as amended a proposed change that clarifies that doors are allowed in the glass wall forming the separation between an atrium and adjoining spaces (G51).

Clay Aler, PE, of Koffel Associates, proposed adding to the exceptions a provision that mandates how atrium spaces be separated from adjacent spaces. The code requires a one-hour fire barrier constructed in accordance with Section 707 or a horizontal assembly constructed in accordance with Section 712, or both, be used in these areas. In areas where a glass wall is used, Aler specified: “Self-closing glass doors shall be permitted in the glass wall.”

In his comment, Aler wrote, “Where glass walls are used as an atrium enclosure, it is typical to include glass doors in the glass walls to maintain material continuity … The proposed revised text will make it clear that glass doors are permitted in glass walls, so long as the glass doors are sprinkler protected in a manner consistent with that provided for the glass wall.”

The exceptions to the section would now state:
1. A fire barrier is not required where a glass wall forming a smoke partition is provided. The glass wall shall comply with all of the following:
1.1 Automatic sprinklers are provided along both sides of the separation wall and doors, or on the room side only if there is not a walkway on the atrium side. The sprinklers shall be located between 4 inches and 12 inches (102 mm and 305 mm) away from the glass and at intervals along the glass not exceeding 6 feet (1829 mm). The sprinkler system shall be designed so that the entire surface of the glass is wet upon activation of the sprinkler system without obstruction;

1.2 The glass wall shall be installed in a gasketed frame in a manner that the framing system deflects without breaking (loading) the glass before the sprinkler system operates; and where glass doors are provided in the glass wall, they shall be either self closing or automatic closing.

2. A fire barrier is not required where a glass block wall assembly, complying with Section 2110 and having a 3/4-hour fire protection rating, is provided.

3. A fire barrier is not required between the atrium and the adjoining spaces of any three floors of the atrium provided such spaces are accounted for in the design of the smoke control system.

Megan Headley is the editor of and Ellen Rogers is a contributing editor for USGlass.

 


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