Fire Safety Lessons from Our Lady of the Angel School Fire

Discover the fire safety insights found from the fire in Chicago's Our Lady of the Angel school including fire detection, suppression and building compartmentation.

Can the Glass Industry Benefit from ASHRAE's WWR Proposal?

The glass industry's been buzzing about the ASHRAE 189.1 proposal for the greater part of the summer, and rightly so. It proposes reducing the prescriptive glazing area limit from 40 to 30 percent of the exterior wall area, which many (myself included) consider a shortsighted and oversimplified reaction. Such constraints overlook the measurably positive impact of windows and views on people, and could negatively limit daylight transfer and other important aspects of building design. But, is o... [More]

What is "Operation School Burning”?

Like many fire and life safety studies, “Operation School Burning” was designed to investigate methods for providing a safer environment for occupants during a fire. Where it differs is that the fire tests were conducted in an actual school building. Over the course of a three month testing period, fires were systematically started in stairways, classrooms and corridors and then analyzed. During this process, a Fire Engineering magazine article states: “researchers tested the e... [More]

Fire-rated Glazing Industry Ripe for Innovation

A few days ago, I read an article about a young architect in Toronto named Tom Ngo, who is developing a reputation for producing architectural drawings that “gleefully ignore reality.” Although some critique his logic-defying concepts—it is impossible to build structures with candy-cane like stilts and support stairwells with air—I was reminded of the value of unconventional thinking. If we never question the status quo or explore new methods, we will be left with a ... [More]

Shattered School Safety: Is Bullet-resistant Glass the Answer?

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, glass is at the forefront of many discussions to improve school safety. In some cases, offenders have used glazed areas as an entry point, begging the question: If schools used bullet-resistant glass, would students be safer? The answer is not so simple.  Bullet-resistant glass is relatively expensive and in some products the composite layers can be highly flammable. When manufacturers layer thermoplastic and polycarbonate bet... [More]

2013 Fire-rated Glass and Framing Forecast

According to McGraw Hill’s Construction Outlook 2013, the construction industry is starting to show small signs of recovery. The caveat in the report is the improvements are contingent on avoiding a recession early in the year. Jeff Dietrich, a senior analyst for ITR Economics, takes a more cautiously optimistic approach in a recent Glass Magazine article, noting “2013 will see changes in taxes, but the economy overall is relatively stable and still growing, albeit at a milder pace t... [More]

Code Trade-offs: A Problem, Not a Solution

In 1984, the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry reprinted a letter to the editor of Dallas Morning News titled: “In Dallas, TX, the Move to Rely on Sprinklers for Fire Protection as an Acceptable ‘Trade Off’ Comes Under Question.” Nearly three decades later, this topic remains heavily debated: Are code trade-offs a solution or a problem? Let’s take a look at the trade-off that allows E-occupancies to have exit corridors with no fire rating when sprinkle... [More]

Haven’t we Dodged Enough Fire Safety Bullets?

A professor of fire science said firefighters “really dodged a bullet” during the recent 1 World Trade Center work materials fire.  When the fire started, there was no water flowing through the building’s standpipe.  This forced firefighters to use a special pumper truck to supply water to fight the fire – a process that takes extra time in a situation where every minute counts.  Others debate whether there was even a bullet to dodge in the 1 World Trade C... [More]

Locked and Loaded: Is your company ready for action?

It could be the altitude, or it could be the approximately 28,000 people in the construction industry that lost their jobs last month, but I’ve spent a few too many hours on airplanes this June thinking about the state of the glazing industry.  On the one hand, the outlook is dismal.  The consistently slow construction market means many companies are still feeling the effects of growing unemployment claims, tight profit margins, higher healthcare costs and slow client pay. But ... [More]

What Radio Frequency Technology can Teach us About Fire and Life Safety

I recently read an article about how a group of researchers at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering are developing a new tool that uses radio frequency technology to monitor the real-time movements of people and equipment on construction sites.  If a worker or piece of equipment gets too close to an edge or predetermined hot spot, the tool triggers an alarm to alert the worksite.   Over the course of a decade, it’s not hard to imagine how this sy... [More]

About the author

Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products (TGP). He frequently writes about the design and specification of glazing for institutional and commercial buildings, and chairs the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA’s) Fire-rated Glazing Council (FRGC).

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