Imagine it’s your child’s first day back at school. In the
excitement to see friends at lunch, he runs down the stairs and throws open the
cafeteria door. But instead of pushing on the metal bar, he pushes on the wired
glass. The glass is old and gives way. His arm shoots right through.
As the pane breaks, the wires hold together the exposed
shards of glass. Their jagged edges and some broken glass injure your child’s
A real risk
While the above scenario might seem extreme, it’s similar
to what Sean Lloyd, a student at Assumption Catholic Secondary School in
. And it’s not an isolated incident. With outdated safety glass
regulations, students across Canada have suffered similar injuries from wired
glass. Thankfully, to the benefit of all students, his efforts to raise
awareness are now a catalyst for revising the country’s national safety glass
Why the rules need
When fire codes were first drafted, traditional wired
glass was the only glazing material that could offer adequate fire protection. To
be clear, it has a proven track record of being a dependable fire-rated glazing
material that has served countless buildings well for many decades. During a
fire, the wire mesh helps hold together broken glass to slow the spread of
flames and smoke.
So, when high traffic areas called for a fire rating, wired
glass was granted an exemption from meeting higher impact safety requirements. At
the time, there simply wasn’t a fire-rated glazing material that also provided
high levels of impact safety.
The good news is choosing fire safety over impact safety is
no longer a tradeoff building and design professionals need to take. There are
a number of specialized glazing materials that provide superior fire and impact
protection, and they are clear and wireless for better safety and aesthetics.
What are the
Today, alternatives to traditional wired glass for
fire-rated glazing applications requiring high-impact safety include:
Clear, wireless glass that defends against flames and smoke.
Depending on the product make-up, fire-rated glass ceramics can provide high
levels of impact safety, ensuring the glass either does not shatter or shatters
in a safe manner when withstanding impact comparable to a full-grown,
A clear, multi-laminate product that is
tested to ASTM E-119 and UL 263, which is the fire resistance standards for
walls. It carries fire ratings up to 120 minutes, blocks significant amounts of
heat during a fire and provides high levels of impact safety.
fire-rated glass with a safety-film
Traditional wired glass with an advanced,
fire-rated surface-applied film. The factory applied film can help provide the
necessary fire and impact safety protection, but can be more susceptible to
surface damage. As such, it’s important to verify whether the surface-applied coating
is appropriate for long term use in the intended application, such as schools.
The coming changes
Given the availability of numerous products that meet
both fire and impact safety needs, you can expect the Canadian General Standards
Board and other advocates to continue working to revise the national safety glass
standards. According to Pierre-Alain Bujold of Public Works and Government
Services Canada in a June 2014 USGlass
The committee determined that in the future, wired glass in Canada
should only be used in non-hazardous situations due to the manner in which
wired glass fails.”
At a minimum, this likely means the board will require
all fire-rated glass in hazardous locations to meet higher impact safety
been done in the United States
. To get on board with the coming changes and
learn more about alternatives to traditional wired glass options available in
Canada, contact your supplier.