Commercial and Residential Glass Installer and Manufacturer Resource

Fire-Rated Glass | 3 Benefits for Commercial Applications

May 29, 2024 10:32:00 AM / by Greg Martell

What is Fire Rated Glass

For any kind of building, there’s no such thing as a small fire. 

Even a small blaze that’s extinguished quickly can cause several hundred to several thousands of dollars in damage in short order. This is especially true for commercial buildings, where the total cost of damages in the United State alone is well into the billions

Staying ahead of a potential fire and the damage it may cause goes far beyond a having a few strategically placed smoke detectors. It requires an always-on, multifaceted approach. 

For any commercial building owner, integrating fire-rated glass throughout the structure can make a big different in how a worst-case scenario plays out and the cost of damage & recovery.

Overview: What is Fire-Rated Glass?

Fire-rated glass is just like it sounds; it's glass that is manufactured to act as a barrier to spreading flames and smoke. This is known as compartmentation.

There are two fire-rated glass types: fire-protective and fire-resistant glass

  1. Fire-protective glass blocks the spread of fire and smoke. 

  2. Fire-resistant glass does the same, but also provides protection from a blaze’s radiant heat. 

In either case, this type of glass  is as strong as it is flame-resistant, unlike traditional wired glass panels.

In order to achieve a fire rating,  the glass must go through a rigorous testing process in which it’s heated to temperatures of up to 1,700 ℉

Subsequent ratings are given to the glass based on how long it stays intact without breaking. Some fire-resistance glass only stays intact for 20 minutes, though better glass can stay intact for up to 3 hours.

3 Benefits of Fire-Rated Glass in Commercial Spaces

Most commercial fires aren't caused intentionally or carelessly, but due to malfunctioning equipment or electrical issues.

Once a fire starts, it spreads so fast that it can be difficult for firefighters to contain once they arrive on the scene. 

Installing fire-rated glass helps prevent the rapid spread of fire, especially in more at-risk facilities. This is a fire protection system that’s always on.

Businesses and residential homes might elect to install fire-rated glass for several reasons, including:

  1. Safety

  2. Insurance savings

  3. It’s always on

1. Safety

The most obvious benefit from this commercial glass is that improves the safety of any building in the event of a fire. The glass resists both fire and impact, meaning the spread of the fire will slow and occupants have more time to escape to safe grounds.

This type of glass is made for windows, doors, framing, and more. If your customer is in a line of work that's more at risk than others, or they just want to maximize a building's safety, investing in this glass is worth it.

2. Insurance Savings

Because fires can be so damaging, the cost to insure certain properties can be significant, especially if the business is deemed more at risk for a fire. Taking the necessary measures to prevent fire damage can score points with your insurance company, which may translate to lower premium costs.

3. It's Always On

Sprinklers, fire extinguishers, and smoke alarms are more reactive fire safety strategies than they are proactive ones. Commercial glass with a fire rating, however, is a measure that's “always on.”

The benefits of this glass  are more wide-ranging than just fire protection. Its  increased impact resistance  means it helps safeguard properties from storms and severe weather.

From a Cost Standpoint, How Does Fire-Rated Glass Compare to Other Safety Glasses?

Fire-rated glass tends to be more expensive than standard safety glass that isn't designed for fire resistance. This higher cost is due to the specialized materials and manufacturing processes required to ensure that the glass can withstand high temperatures and prevent the spread of fire, which involves multiple layers or treatments that standard safety glass doesn't require.

Are There Any Installation Directions for Putting in Fire-Rated Glass?

The installation of fire-rated glass typically must adhere to stricter regulations and standards than regular glass to ensure it performs its fire-resisting function effectively. This includes the use of compatible framing systems that can also resist fire. The installation must often be certified by professionals who ensure that the glass is installed according to the specific fire safety codes applicable to the building's design and intended use.

What Does Fire-Rated Glass Maintenance Look Like & How Long is its Lifespan? 

Maintenance of fire-rated glass is similar to regular glass in terms of cleaning and general care. However, it's best to regularly inspect fire-rated glass for any damage or faults that could compromise its integrity. The lifespan of fire-rated glass is generally comparable to that of standard glass as long as it remains undamaged and properly installed, typically lasting as long as the building itself under normal conditions.


Helping Your Customers Protect Their Customers & Buildings  Glass

Fire-rated glass gives your customers peace of mind with an added layer of safety. From windows, doors, framing, and more, fire-rated glass is worth the investment.

Is Fire-Rated Glass Right For You?

Does fire-rated glass make sense for your project? Compare our SaftiFirst fire-protective glass products:

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(Editor's note: This article was originally published in September 2020 and was recently updated). 

Topics: Glass, Commercial Glass, Fire Rated Glass

Written by Greg Martell