Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
SAFTIFIRST Announces Fire Protective and Fire Resistive Architectural Products
July 11th, 2018 by Susan Smith
At AIA 2018, AECCafe met with Timothy R. Nass VP – National Sales of SAFTIFIRST to discuss their product line of Fire Protective and Fire Resistive products that also provide natural light for architectural projects. You can view Nass’s interview with our CEO Sanjay Gangal at the conference, as well as his replies to AECCafe Voice’s inquiry below:
Can you describe how the product protects occupants in case of fire?
SAFTI manufactures products rated from 20 minutes up to 120. There are two (2) product classifications; Fire Protective and Fire Resistive. The Fire Protective Products (20 min – 45 min) compartmentalize the visual elements of a fire by code. As a result, they are limited in size and scope. The Fire Resistive Products (60 min– 120 min) compartmentalize the visual elements of a fire as well as stop the transfer of radiant energy. There are no limitations placed on resistive products as a result of their ability to control radiant energy. These systems prevent a fire from spreading within the building and allow the building occupants to evacuate the premises without feeling all of the effects of a fire. These products are considered passive or built-in fire protection as they don’t rely on sprinklers for support.
I understand your products are available in many architectural make-ups, including energy performance, hurricane and ballistic resistance, etc. Can you describe what kind of energy performance the products have as well as how they might be useful for hurricane or ballistic resistance?
Because these resistive systems are designed to limit radiant heat transfer from a fire, these products are very robust relative to thermal performance. Values vary based on the type of coated glass incorporated and center of glass, but we see very aggressive U Values in the 0.26 range. We also get very aggressive SHGC, CRF’s and sound attenuation properties (OITC/STC). The fire resistive systems are excellent in what we would consider multi-functional applications; fire rated and hurricane impact or ballistic. They provide the transparency that designers, owners and building occupants crave to supply natural light. Yet they can incorporate security features quite seamlessly, allowing the rated products to blend in with their non-rated counterparts and ensuring the entire building envelope is performing in lock step.
What is the benefit of the insulating unit with airspace filled with polymer as opposed to what your competitors offer?
The insulated, polymer filled units are made to order. Meaning we build them to size all custom, no standard sizes. Our II-XL consists of two (2) lites of ¼” tempered glass with one layer of intumescent. They consist of fewer raw materials enhancing their clarity, they are lighter to manipulate in the field and have increase durability because of the dual sealed perimeter. The multi-laminate counterparts consist of multiple layers of annealed glass impacting clarity. The static sheet sizes are culled to harvest the right sized units for the project. Their product is labor intensive to make, heavier and susceptible at the perimeter and typically comes to the job site at a premium.
Can you explain what “fire-rated floors” offer?
Floors present a unique set of challenges typically because of the weight associated with fire resistive materials. They do however provide the same type of protection and performance as the horizontal applications. Fire rated floors lend a dramatic flair to a building’s design. They are also a creative way to incorporate natural light into a building from above. Fire rated floors take the mundane and make them a focal point of a buildings design. SAFTI makes North America’s only top loaded, 120 min floor. Our frame is the structure eliminating steel around the opening. Our glass incorporates the walkable surface directly into the rated portion allowing one (1) piece of glass to be set from above. This design eliminates an airspace which potentially allows for condensation. It also eliminates steps during installation making it safer and less expensive.
How is it that the system can remain in place for up to two hours?
These transparent barriers incorporate steel for endurance, integrity and durability. They have two (2) insulating barriers or thermal breaks that prevent heat from transferring from fire side to the unexposed surface of the frame. The aluminum is purely ornamental to allow the system to mimic the appearance of the non-rated systems comprising the balance of the building. We have developed and perfected a totally transparent, intumescent polymer that is indistinguishable in its dormant state. It is activated by heat. It will expand toward the heat source and break a lite of glass by design. The heat from the fire will suck the moisture out of the polymer, it will transform from transparent to opaque. What remains is called a fire resistive “char” and that barrier prevents heat from radiating through the glass. Thus the entire system stops the transfer of radiant energy up to 120 minutes in compliance with ASTM E119/UL 263/NFPA 251/ULC S101.
What temperatures can the products withstand in terms of heat?
These products endure some very extreme temperatures in a very unstable environment. Temperatures can reach 977 degrees Celsius or 1700 degrees Fahrenheit. These are very highly engineered, complex systems that are designed to give building occupants a chance to leave the building safely, limit the progress and damage of the fire throughout the building or prevent the fire from shifting from one structure to another. The goal is to give Fire Fighters an opportunity to extinguish the blaze and limit the damage to the building owner.
Are there special considerations such as not touching the transparent barrier during a fire event, etc. that building occupants must adhere to?
The unexposed surface of the glass and framing cannot exceed 250 F above ambient starting point. We are still talking potentially 200+ degrees Fahrenheit. Touching may not be such a good idea, but accidentally brushing up against the system would not prove fatal and much safer to encounter than their non-rated counterparts. In their dormant state these products should be treated like any other part of fenestration.