Architects, glaziers, and other industry partners attended an event sponsored by Vetrotech Saint-Gobain to learn about fire-rated glazing use in Chicago.

Earlier this year, the city of Chicago has adopted the 2018 International Building Code, and this could mean changes to fire-rated glazing. Vetrotech Saint-Gobain wants to make sure the industry knows about the changes, so it hosted an AIA-accredited presentation last week in Chicago. About 40 architects, glaziers, certified dealers and partners, were in attendance.

On April 10, 2019, Chicago’s city council adopted major revisions to the City of Chicago’s construction requirements–the first comprehensive revision in 70 years. The ordinance incorporates portions of the 2018 International Building CodeInternational Existing Building CodeInternational Fire Code, and International Energy Conservation Code.

The updated energy code took effect June 1, 2019. Substantive construction and renovation provisions will become optional December 1, 2019, and mandatory for permit applications started on or after August 1, 2020.

Glass and glazing consultant Thomas Zaremba led the session which explained everything from defining fire-resistance rated glazing and fire- protection rated glazing, how both are used, how fire windows are tested and much more.

After arming attendees with all the basics, he walked them through “special problems” they may encounter and how to navigate through those.

Problem 1: Identifying doors from windows. Some fire doors have continuous metal frames that include transom areas above the fire door and sidelight areas on one or both sides of the fire door. This makes the transom and side lites part of the “fire door assembly,” according to Zaremba.

Problem 2: Temperature rise doors. “Fire door assemblies in interior exit stairways/ramps and exit passageways shall have a maximum transmitted temperature rise of not more than 450°F … at the end of 30 minutes of standard fire test exposure.”

  1. This is less than ASTM E119 testing, but more than NFPA 252 testing.
  2. Glazing in a temperature rise door is marked D-H-T where D stands for fire door, H stands for hose stream tested and T stands for compliance with the temperature rise requirements of §716.5.5.

Zaremba also noted that neither NFPA 101 nor NFPA 5000 recognize the existence of “temperature rise doors” as described in IBC §716.5.5.

Problem 3: Safety Glazing. Use of fire-resistance-rated or fire-protection rated glass in a hazardous location requires compliance with 16 C.F.R. §1201 or ANSI Z97.1 safety glazing standards. Zaremba reminded attendees that glazing in any fire door or sidelite has to be safety glazing. According to the code, generally, glazing in a fire window must be safety glazing if it is:

  • ˃9 square feet;
  • Bottom edge is ˂18 inches above the floor;
  • Top edge is ˃36 inches above the floor; and
  • A walking surface is within 36 inches horizontally and in a straight line of the plane of the glazing.

“When Chicago adopted the International Building Code, we knew it would be important for architects, glaziers and others in our industry to understand the implications for balanced fire protection under the new requirements,” said Michael Miller, Midwest regional sales manager for Vetrotech in North America. “We were pleased that so many of our colleagues felt the same way. Our knowledge of code requirements and design possibilities are always expanding in this industry; the more we can understand it together, the more we can create amazing, safe living places for all.”