What is Fire Rated Glass?


When designing a building, architects must always plan for the worst. An out-of-control fire can destroy buildings and put lives at risk – which makes fire rated glass a great solution both inside and outside a building.

Fire rated glass

Fire rated glass (also known as fire-resistant glass) is a specialist product that offers a robust barrier against heat, flames, and smoke. Unlike regular or toughened glass, its fire resistance is determined by a controlled test. But what else separates fire rated glass from its cheaper, but less safe, cousins? Let’s explore.

A place of greater safety

Fire rated glass in an office environment

With its ingenious design (see next section), fire rated glass can withstand heat in excess of 800°C whilst keeping flames and smoke at bay. A matter of life and death, in other words.

Building regulations are strict when it comes to fire safety-specific glass. As a legal requirement, all fire rated glass must pass a Fire Resistance Test to be considered usable. This test is used to measure the performance of a glass panel at different levels of fire intensity.

Fire Resistance Tests look for two kinds of performance. These are:

  1. Integrity – The length of time that the glass remains intact whilst keeping out flames and smoke. This is indicated in the rating itself – E30 means the glass keeps its integrity for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Insulation – The level of heat protection offered by the glass. The non-fire side of the glass should stay at a safe temperature for the length of time indicated in the rating.

Layer upon layer

Fire rated glass comes in two types: laminated and non-laminated. The secret to laminated fire rated glass is found in its intumescent layer. This baffling word has a rather simple meaning: a substance that expands when it heats up.

Laminated fire rated glass uses multiple layers of toughened glass sheets with an intumescent gel layer in between. (Non-laminated versions use just a single sheet, which is toughened after the process.) When a fire breaks out, the first glass sheet will shatter, activating the first intumescent layer. This causes the gel to expand, creating a more effective barrier against flames and smoke.

These individual layers are extraordinarily thin. Indeed, abc Glass’s stock fire rated glass boasts a thickness of only 7mm. But for the glass to work, it must be installed within a fire-resistant frame or surround. This not only secures the glass but prevents the intumescent gel from leaking out at the perimeter. Manufacturers install a spacer around the edge of the glass to prevent such a mishap.

What fire rated glass do we offer?

At abc Glass, our expertise lies in cutting and shaping laminated fire rated glass. We do not manufacture the glass itself, nor the framing system. However, the extent to which we can process fire safety glass for your specific requirements is nearly unlimited. Our technicians can drill, polish, bevel, and paint your fire rated glass, as well as shape it to precise measurements using our state-of-the-art CNC machinery.

Water jet glass cutting at abc Glass Processing

Our go-to fire rated glass is Pyrobelite 7, a popular product that meets the European standard (BS EN 13501-2). This popular glass is kept in stock all year round and is by far our best-selling fire-resistant glass. We can also order in other types of fire rated glass at a 2-3 week lead time. These include thicker glass sheets better suited to internal partitions and balustrades.

If you’re interested in our fire rated glass services, feel free to contact our friendly and knowledgeable team. We look forward to answering any questions you may have about fire-resistant glass and to discuss your next project.