Code Technology Committee Proposes Further Research into Labels
for Fire-Rated Glazing
The International Code Council's (ICC) Code Technology Committee
(CTC) heard testimony on marking standards for the rating of fire-resistance
and fire protection glazing during a meeting this morning in Baltimore.
A motion to recommend to the ICC board of directors that the CTC
further study this issue ultimately was approved. Pending approval
by the board at its meeting in July, the CTC may form a study group
that will look at refining a labeling system that accurately informs
and protects the end-user.
HERE to read about the ICC Fire Safety Committee's recent decision
on labeling during the ICC code hearings in February.
While some of the testimony from the audience urged the CTC to
create a committee to address the use of a new marking system for
fire-resistant and fire protection glazing, others noted that research
into an effective system currently is being conducted by both the
Glass Association of North America's (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council
(FRGC) and the Americas Glass Association's (AGA) Fire Safety Glazing
"From my standpoint, this is an intra-industry issue that
should be worked out," said Thom Zaremba, representing Pilkington
North America, a fire-rated glazing manufacturer that currently
offers a marking system. "There's a marking system in place
now, that's been in use by a number of the primary manufacturers
of fire-rated windows, doors, etc. Underwriter Laboratories (UL)
has adopted it and is currently using it
The change, I think,
would be a serious mistake."
However, Harold Hicks of Atlantic Code Consultants, representing
the AGA, commented that while the industry associations are working
to address the issue of labeling, "When you allow the manufacturers
to determine what the public should know, you're going to get into
a situation that the public is going to know what you want them
Hicks urged the CTC to take the issue under their consideration,
taking the issue of labeling out of the glass industry's hands.
"This is a major issue and it's not about protecting manufacturers,"
he said. "It's about what do we want the consumer to know,
how do we want the consumer to be protected by the products that
are coming out
and how do we make it available to them?"
According to Kate Steel, who represents the FSGC, "The industry
is not the place where we need the input." Steel also urged
the CTC to set up a committee that addresses all interested parties,
including end users and code officials.
Yet, as a representative from the fire safety committee pointed
out, the CTC does not know the state of what is being currently
being discussed within the industry. "We're not at the GANA
meeting, we're not at the NFPA committees, so basically we see consultants
battling about which one's better. We have no idea."
What they do know is that the issue of labeling has been brought
repeatedly before the ICC.
"We've been hearing very similar versions of these code changes
for three or four cycles," commented Bill Koffel, a consultant
to the Glazing Industry Code Committee (GICC), who attended this
morning's meeting as an observer. "Yes, I think it needs to
be studied." He did not mention who should do that studying,
though, having already pointed out that GICC brought the issue before
GANA to address as "every major player of the fire-rated glazing
industry is a member of GANA."
One of the reasons this issue has been brought forth time and again,
and is the source of such confusion, is that the adopted labeling
system allegedly is a source of confusion to end-users.
"Building and fire officials don't want to stand up in light
and testify that they're confused by this because it's an embarrassing
situation," Hicks said.
He added that he has seen instances of misuse of products by architects.
His advice to those parties? "When in doubt, use a wall,"
Hicks said. "Drywall and masonry are a lot better
you don't have to debate about it."
In addition, the existing labeling system is still a topic of debate
within the glass industry.
According to Zaremba, "The votes have been overwhelming
to support the existing system."
Yet the issue continues to surface at code hearings.
Zaremba noted that there is a product in the marketplace that is
not subjected to the hose stream test and is listed by one test
house for 45 minutes; yet the most this product could be rated for
is 20 minutes per the host stream test requirements of the current
code. As a result, Zaremba said, the motion to alter the marking
system continually is brought before ICC during the code hearings.
Hicks countered, "Having a label that allows us to use alternative
products is a good thing, I think."
Koffel commented that GICC remained silent during the decision
process on what type of labeling system to adopt, with the expectation
that one be adopted. Since the current system has become a part
of the fire safety code, GICC has supported it because "We
were able to make some modifications
For instance, Koffel explained, NFPA 80-26 requires an additional
marking for certain glass products. With this "tweak,"
Koffel explained, fire-rated products that aren't tested to the
hose steam test are marked-but they have an additional marking "that
says we did something different to this."
From Koffel's perspective, the labeling system is clear, but the
code could be further refined.
Ultimately, the only point of agreement was that further research
is needed into this labeling system, and the CTC agreed to take
on that task. Should the board vote to approve this, a few members
of the committee will work with any interested parties to develop
a solution for a future code cycle.
HERE to add your comments on the current fire-rated glazing
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