Fire-rated glass and framing products from Technical Glass Products (TGP)

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School Design

THINK AHEAD

What special considerations should be taken into account when choosing fire-rated glazing for schools?

Schools are unique in the construction industry because they raise several issues that typically do not arise with other occupancies.

High Activity
Educational facilities are subject to greater activity than a typical office building. The frequent movement of students throughout the day means that impact safety must be a high priority.

Abuse
School hallways and common areas are often defaced, either intentionally or unintentionally. The fire-rated glazing chosen should be durable. Products relying on a surface film for impact safety may not be the best choice for these locations (consider the effects of daily cleaning from janitorial crews, or frequent impact from students).

Maintenance
For building and life safety (not to mention legal considerations), damaged products must be replaced or repaired in short order. Be sure the product you choose will be durable and available locally.

Longevity
Schools are expected to operate for many years. Since school construction and maintenance budgets are tight, it is very important that building products stand up over time.

Why not just apply a safety film to wired glass in hazardous locations?

As mentioned before, schools are more prone to abuse than many other types of facilities. Even the toughest films can be marred, cut or peeled. The film can be damaged by vandals, unintentionally by maintenance personnel or just daily use.

When the film is damaged, it not only is unsightly -- it can impair the performance ability of the product and render the impact ratings invalid. It’s also important to note that not all surface-applied film is fire-rated. If you do choose to use a filmed product, make sure it has been tested for fire and impact, and is listed by an independent testing agency.

We are not opposed to the use of surface-applied film, we even sell a fire-rated product that has a film applied for impact safety. However, for maintenance reasons, we do not recommend its use in high traffic areas such as schools.


Choose safety over savings in fire-rated
exit corridors

In certain instances, the IBC grants an exemption for one-hour, fire-rated exit corridors in educational occupancies and does not require fire-rated materials when automatic sprinklers are in place.

The theory is that shifting money from building compartmentation to sprinklers is an effective and affordable way to protect students and teachers against fire. However, not adding fire-rated materials to exit corridors eliminates crucial backup protection in instances where sprinklers do not perform as intended.

According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) data, sprinklers fail approximately one-in-ten times. Since passive fire-rated materials like fire-resistant-rated glass do not require activation to perform as intended, they can work to control a fire’s spread with – or without – sprinkler systems.

In the event that a sprinkler fails to perform as intended during a fire, these materials help ensure students and faculty can safely pass through the hall and out the door.

With communities desiring safe school environments, isn’t the minimal cost increment worth the improved protection for students and faculty?


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