Regulations & classification
Fire safety standards
In Europe, different levels of power issue regulations relating to fire safety: the European Union, the states and the municipal authorities. Recommendations can also be made by the local fire services.
The purpose of these standards is to ensure the safety of people in any type of building and to enable building occupants to be evacuated safely.
Fire resistance and reaction to fire
European regulations distinguish between a material's fire resistance and its reaction to fire.
A material's reaction to fire denotes a building material's characteristics in contributing to a fire (flammability, combustibility). European standard EN 1305-1 establishes seven classes ranging from A1 to F.
A glass building element's fire resistance indicates the extent to which the building element is able to limit the spread of a fire. It relates to the period for which the respective building element maintains the following functions in a fire: stability, flame integrity and thermal insulation.
European classification of fire-resistance
Glass is just one part of the unit that should resist fire. Installers are responsible for ensuring that the element as a whole meets current standards.
To classify and rank the glazed elements, accredited laboratories perform fire resistance tests.
Resistance is quantified via classes defined by European standard EN 13501-2:
E : flame integrity – the element's ability to act as a barrier to flames and hot gases for a given period. However, heat transfer may occur. Example E30.
EW: integrity and mitigation of thermal radiation – the element's ability to act as a barrier to flames and hot gases and to limit the level of heat transfer through it. Radiation levels, as measured one metre from the unexposed surface, must remain below 15 kW/m2.
EI: integrity and thermal insulation –the element's ability to act as a barrier to flames and hot gases and to block heat transfer through it. On the unexposed side of the surface, the temperature should not increase more than 140°C above the average initial temperature.
Each glass element's fire resistance is defined by the period (in minutes) for which the element meets one or more criteria (E, EW, EI) at the same time.
Smoke and heat control: the DH criteria
European standard EN 12101-1 provides for the classification for smoke and heat control. Using this as a basis, DH indicates a barrier's ability to retain smoke in a specific room volume.
The level of fire protection required will depend on an assessment of various risk criteria, such as:
- the type of building;
- its use and purpose;
- its height and surface area;
- its location and emergency access.