What You Need to Know about CSDMA 90 Minute Fire Rated Windows and Transom frames, and Side Lites.

The CSDMA recently tested a 90 minute rated assembly for fire windows, transom frames, sidelite frames and screens containing a door or doors.  We are now receiving requests to supply these units for ongoing projects.

There are some issues that need to be understood before quoting or supplying these 90 minute rated fire windows and transom frames, and sidelites .

The CSDMA tested the hollow metal framing “assembly” to the following:

USA Standards:

NFPA 252 or UL 10B or UL 10C (fire door standards)

NFPA 257 or UL9 (fire window standards)

Canadian Standards : CAN/ULC-S104 (fire doors)

CAN/ULC-S106 (fire windows)

The glass used was ¼” thick single pane ceramic glass fire rated and safety rated.  GPW and wired glass is not allowed for 90 minute fire rated assemblies.

The ceramic glass falls under the glazing category called “Fire Protective” glass. The ceramic glass on each piece must bear the ULc or WHc logo and the hourly rating. The “OH” on the glass tells you that the glass meets the assembly criteria of NFPA 257 or UL9 including the hose stream test.

This is very important to understand as fire protective glass is a barrier to flame, but not a barrier to heat transfer. The CSDMA tested hollow metal is a solution to a fire protective opening in a wall.

The CSDMA unit is an opening in a fire rated wall assembly and hence is fire rated for 3/4 of the hourly rating of the wall assembly in which it is installed, hence  45 minutes or 90 minutes.

So where does the confusion come in?

There is also a glazed wall standard that is much different. These glazed units are “walls” not openings in a wall. The fire resistant glass wall assemblies are rated for 1 hour or 2 hours which is the same as the wall rating.

These assemblies are tested to a different standard that includes “Fire Resistant” or “Fire Resistive” glazing. The assembly of glass or glass and metal has the added protection of being a barrier to radiant heat transfer. This is very much like the difference between a standard fire door and a temperature rise rated fire door.

Neither ceramic glass nor wire glass is allowed as they do not provide a barrier to radiant heat transfer.

Only specialty glass that has been tested as a barrier to heat transfer is allowed.

The standards for “Fire Resistant” assemblies are:

USA  Standards: ASTM E119 , UL 263 or NFPA 251

Canadian Standards: CAN/ULC S101

Glass for these openings include the trade names such as Contraflam or Pyrostop. The glass on each piece must bear the ULc or WHc logo and the hourly rating. The “W” on the glass tells you that the glass meets the assembly criteria of ASTM E119 or UL263 including the hose stream test.

The use of “Fire Resistant” glazing in a CSDMA assembly does not make the opening “Fire Protective”.

The CSDMA assembly would not meet code requirements in that case.

When supplying hollow metal units it is important to understand the difference between “Fire Protective:” and “Fire Resistant” glazing. The provincial building codes determine whether “Fire Protective:” and “Fire Resistant” glazing is required. The architect should be referring to the applicable provincial building code to determine and specify the requirements for “Fire Protective” and “Fire Resistant” glazed assemblies. If in any doubt check with the architect and the AHJ to clarify the specifications. Check what type of glass is required. Ceramic glass indicates that a hollow metal assembly is acceptable, but review the glass specified to be sure. If there is not a specific glass specified for the opening(s) then checking with the architect is absolutely required. 

Understanding the difference between “Fire Protective:” and “a Fire Resistant” glazed assembly is very important here as we are dealing with life safety. Someone’s life may depend on it.