Chicago’s Adoption of the 2018 IBC Could Impact Use of Fire-Rated Glazing

Chicago’s use of fire-rated glazing could be impacted by its recent adoption of the 2018 International Building Code (IBC), which will be phased in over the next few years. According to the International Code Council, the last comprehensive overhaul of the Chicago Building Code was in 1949. However, glazing industry code consultant Thom Zaremba says that upon closer examination, Chicago has adopted several differences when compared to the 2018 IBC.

One of those major differences is that in the 2018 IBC, “corridors” that connect classrooms in educational occupancies (i.e. schools) to exits are not fire-rated in most sprinklered schools. However, in Chicago’s version, according to Zaremba, all exit corridors in educational occupancies are required to be one-hour fire-resistance rated whether the school is fully sprinklered or not. Zaremba explains that the second major difference is that in the 2018 IBC, only sprinklered R-3 and R-4 (multifamily or multi-occupant residential occupancies) are required to have one-hour fire-resistance rated  exit corridor walls.

“All other R-occupancies are only required to have half-hour fire-resistance rated exit corridors. In Chicago’s version of the IBC, however, all corridor walls in all sprinklered R-occupancies [with occupancy loads served by the corridor greater than ten] must be one-hour fire-resistance rated,” he says. “In addition to the significant increased safety factor these changes will introduce to all of Chicago’s schools and multifamily residential occupancies, it will increase the use of 45-minute and one-hour fire protection glazings in these occupancies.”

According to Diana San Diego, vice president of marketing at Safti First, adopting the 2018 IBC also allows Chicago to begin recognizing the two types of fire-rated glass as referenced in chapter 7 of the code: fire-protection (or fire protective) and fire-resistance (or fire resistive). Fire-resistive glass is fire-rated glass that defends against the spread of flames, smoke, and hot gas, and limits the passage of radiant and conductive heat. Fire-protective glass is fire-rated glass that defends against the spread of flames, smoke and hot gas. Fire-resistive is tested as a wall, whereas fire-protective glass’ area is limited to 25% of the wall.

“In addition, the three tables in Section 716 clearly outline how fire-rated glazing is to be marked based on testing and where fire-protection glass and fire-resistance glass are allowed, along with its limitations,” says San Diego. “Moving forward, there should be less confusion among architects, building officials and end users on what type of fire-rated glazing should be used for the application because it is clearly outlined in these tables.”

Chicago’s lawmakers revised section 802.6 “Fire-resistance ratings” of the 2018 IBC to read, “Where approved by the building official, buildings where an automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1 or 903.3.1.2 of the Chicago Building Code has been added, and the building is now sprinklered throughout, the required fire-resistance ratings of building elements and materials shall be allowed to meet the requirements of the Chicago Building Code.

The building is required to meet the other applicable requirements of the Chicago Building Code.” The 2018 IBC, like earlier versions of the code, limits the use of fire-protective glazing in fire doors used in exit enclosures and passageways due to radiant heat concerns, even when the building is fully sprinklered. According to San Diego, for these applications, wired glass and ceramics, although rated up to 90 and 180 minutes, respectively, are limited to 100 square inches.

“To exceed 100 square inches, fire-resistance (or fire resistive) glass must be used. It is important to note that these changes are in place to improve safety—and with the advent of fire-resistance (or fire resistive) glass tested to ASTM E-119/UL 263, architects are still able to use glass in these fire-rated spaces without compromising safety,” she says.

Resilient Building Efforts Prompt FEMA Strategy

As the nation sees an increase of natural disasters leaving the communities in their paths’ with billions-of-dollars’ worth of damage, several organizations are making an effort to reduce these costs through resilient building tactics.

Composed of federal, state, local, tribal and territorial public-sector representatives, the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group (MitFLG) released a strategy for “advancing mitigation investment to reduce risks posed by natural hazards and increasing the nation’s resilience to natural hazards.”

The National Mitigation Investment Strategy (NMIS) has three goals:
• Show how mitigation investments reduce risk;
• Coordinate mitigation investments to reduce risk; and
• Make mitigation investment standard practice.

In working with the International Code Council (ICC), the NMIS lays a heavy emphasis on encouraging and enforcing current building codes and practices, specifically those outlined in the International Building Code (IBC) and 2018 International Residential Code (IRC).

The strategy for achieving this as outlined in the NMIS includes educating communities to the mitigation benefits of current codes and supporting organizations that do the same. In addition to this, the NMIS wants to partner with experts to provide code administration to building projects after disasters and financial incentives for businesses that adhere to rebuilding with current codes. Another action proposed called for federal and state grant programs to require up-to-date codes to be followed, which ICC says is currently only required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“Requiring up-to-date building codes in federal and state grants and programs would provide a powerful incentive for jurisdictions to stay current and could meaningfully move the needle,” ICC chief executive officer Dominic Sims says.

Code enforcement and encouragement also echo the efforts of the strategic plan laid out by FEMA, which chairs MitFLG and worked closely on the development of the NMIS. The FEMA strategy states that “up-to-date building codes help communities survive, remain resilient and continue to provide essential services after a disaster occurs.”

Citing a study by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), the strategy pointed out that every dollar invested in adhering to current building codes yields a national benefit of $11. However, it is up to states and communities to adopt codes and only 32% of disaster-prone jurisdictions have agreed to follow disaster-resistant building codes, according to FEMA’s Building Science Branch.

The requirements for glass and glazing under the IBC include designs that resist windloads, and loads caused by snow and seismic activity.

MitFLG was organized by the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 and is tasked with the coordination of the NMIS implementation, which it says is the whole community’s responsibility.

“The adoption and application of current codes is the foundation of community resilience, but with close to two-thirds of communities facing disaster risk on outdated codes, we have our work cut out for us,” says Sims.

AAMA Updates Adhesive Systems, Frame Deflection Standards

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) has updated two standards: one for adhesive systems designed to attach simulated divided lite (SDL) bars to glass and one that can provide guidance when installing fenestration products.

AAMA 813-19, Voluntary Specification and Test Methods for Adhesives Used in Simulated Divided Lite Bars, was originally released in 2011 to establish minimum performance criteria for adhesive systems used in such attachments for the fenestration industry.

“The first update to AAMA 813 has now been completed,” says Chris Habegger, chair of the AAMA 813 Simulated Divided Lite Task Group. “UV testing references were updated and peel adhesion requirements for tapes now match liquid adhesive systems as well as clarification in the reporting  of results.”

SDL bars are sometimes known as non-structural decorative muntin bars. Per the specification, the adhesive system is to remain uncompromised both at installation time and through a range of weathering conditions. While this voluntary specification utilizes standardized SDL bars and substrates for testing, it is suggested that actual materials and finishes being considered in a particular design be tested for suitability in accordance with the fenestration manufacturer’s instructions.

AAMA 812-19, Voluntary Practice for Assessment of Frame Deflection When Using One Component of Air-Sealing Rough Openings of Fenestration Installations, was last updated in 2010.

In the past, one component polyurethane foams have sometimes been associated with frame deflection of fenestration products resulting from either misapplication or the use of foams not suited for this purpose. One component polyurethane foams have been developed specifically for applications with fenestration products.

“One component polyurethane foam sealants are used to augment the energy efficiency performance of fenestration installations,” says Beverly Selle, chair of the AAMA 812 Insulating Expanding Foams Task Group. “AAMA 812 has been updated to clarify foam physical properties, enhance sample preparation, testing and measurement procedures, and include requirements for reporting of test results.”

The practice discussed in the standard identifies pressure build and dimensional stability as the key attributes that contribute to deflection of fenestration products resulting from the use of one component polyurethane foams. It provides test protocols for assessing these key attributes.

AAMA 813-19 and AAMA 812-19, as well as other AAMA documents, may be purchased from AAMA’s online store.

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