Burning issue: blending fire safety with comfort

Burning issue: blending fire safety with comfort

As with any building, ensuring residents are protected in the event of a fire is a vital consideration for care home operators. However, in an effort to minimize the risk of a fire spreading through a building, architects may be tempted to use less glass, which consequently prevents  natural light to flow through rooms.

Fire-resistant glazing

Fire-resistance has been a key focus for innovators in the glass industry for decades and has led to the development of products that provide robust protection against flames, smoke and heat. 

Wired glass was predominantly used as fire-resistant glazing due to its ability to meet fire safety requirements while being relatively low cost. Although the glass still represents good value, it can limit the scope for clear lines of sight and bright, well-lit spaces. 

Nowadays, fire-resistant glass is available with high level of transparency. This means a floor-to-ceiling glass screen can effectively serve the same purpose as a brick wall, something that has had a significant impact on aesthetics and building design.  


Building regulations give guidance on the levels of fire resistance needed in certain applications, such as ensuring different areas of a building are separated by barriers to prevent the spread of a fire.   

Care home facilities, in particular, are required to have a fire safety strategy in place. This strategy will consider factors such as ensuring there is a clear exit route that enables people to vacate the building without exposure to harmful gases and flames. Evacuation times also need consideration and these need to be matched with the correct specification of integrity and insulation fire-resistant glasses. 

Glass is the ideal material in helping builders and architects comply with these regulations, without compromising on the building’s aesthetic appeal.


When fire breaks out

If installed as curtain walling, internal doors or fire screens, it is possible for fire-resistant glass to provide complete protection against heat transfer for up to three hours, depending on the specification of the fire-resistant product.

When it is heated, the intumescent material turns opaque and expands to form a barrier to hot gases and flames, and effective insulation from the heat of a blaze.  

Turning opaque also blocks the view of the fire, which minimises panic amongst residents while acting as a guide for emergency services to indicate the presence of the fire.

It is designed to prevent break-out and movement of fire along, or up, the outside face of the building or across re-entrant corners. It also helps prevent fire transfer from one building to another, limiting risk to life and building damage while helping extend the time for residents to vacate safely.

Even floor-to-ceiling glass screens can provide this kind of protection so there is no longer any need to visually screen off areas to protect them in case of fire. 

More basic systems offer less protection, in terms of insulation, but are able to maintain their transparency when exposed to fire.

These type of glasses highlight the areas of risk which helps people avoid these areas when evacuating the building. It can also aid the emergency services in finding a route through the building, providing them with a clear line of sight without having to expose themselves to potential danger.  

Unsurprisingly, these advances have led to a growing market demand for fire-resistant glass and glazing products.

Future Architectural Glass, LLC (Future Glass) is a joint venture between a multinational & diversified Singapore corporation and a leading Indian glass conglomerate.
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