HELP! Is it possible to use fire rated glass curtain wall in firefighting shafts in buildings?


Hi all!

Is it possible to use fire rated glass curtain wall in firefighting shafts in buildings?

Thank you very much


May 14, 17 6:26 am
Non Sequitur
No. No such thing as a rated curtain wall. The failure time of the aluminum frame is near instantaneous.

But it all depends on your local codes. Since you don't know this, I'll assume this is for a school project.
May 14, 17 8:32 am
There are products that allow for fire rated glazing that can be used for stairwells, but the framing has to go to hollow metal/steel. That combined with fire glazing makes it really expensive really quickly, but it can be done.
May 14, 17 5:55 pm
"No such thing" ... "has to be hollow metal or steel" ... ???

I'll just leave this here then. Fire-rated aluminum curtain walls:
May 15, 17 12:49 am

Learn something new every day. Thanks EI!

Learn something new every day. Thanks EI!

TGP also has interior aluminum framing that can achieve 120 min. rating. It's not curtain wall though. But something tells me the OP wouldn't know the difference.


Requirements for openings (windows and doors) and partitions (walls and shaft walls) are different. If this isn't school make sure your proposed product is tested against the correct ASTM standard.

Non Sequitur
Neat product EI. Sounds expensive.

I don't think this one is approved for use under my local codes.
May 15, 17 6:06 am

My one look at such things for a project said "yes, expensive". Like: Arm, Leg, and First Born.

Non Sequitur

Yep. I have a project were we specified clear wire-less rated glass (due to local codes not yet allowing wired glass under 1/2" thick - weird code limbo, and complicated). The glass was 10x the cost of regular stuff.


I actually handled a 2 or 3 hour glass sample the other day. It's ridiculously heavy. I was very impressed with the clarity, though. I was not expecting something with that many laminations to be clear.

I've never used it on a project yet. The Owner quickly realizes they can deal without the glass when the cost estimate comes in. Gypsum board is a lot cheaper.


We've done it on schools, university and commercial buildings - it's relatively more expensive than standard curtain wall but not astronomically, and we've usually done it only in small areas. There are manufacturers of fire rated curtain wall and storefront who can pretty much match it aesthetically to the major manufacturers' usual systems, and it can meet code in any US location I've worked on including NYC. But the OP's mention of "firefighting shaft" makes me think he's in the UK, and I don't know what the availability is there or whether it's ok code-wise.

Non Sequitur

Bloop, you're a little late to the party.




I'd have to see the context, but the curtain wall structure doesn't have to be aluminium, it could be steel, and steel can be protected e.g. by intumescent paint. Glazing can also be a fire resistant material.

There may of course be consequences in this, such as steel section sizes increasing beyond the desirable, and the glazing panes being smaller than preferred size.

Vulnerable elements can also be protected by things like fire curtains (if the fire is internal) or sprinklers (externally), or fire shutters, though obviously there are limits and consequences on the design.

Something not stated in the discussion though:

1. where is the fire source? inside or outside, or considered to be both (i.e. protection required both directions)?

2. how long does the curtain wall need to resist a fire, and what is it doing? Just stability and preventing passage of smoke and flame, or does it have to also provide insulation?

It really depends on what you want to do, what limitations you are prepared to accept, and what you can convince someone like a building regulations compliance assessor, that it is not only feasible, but will absolutely work when it absolutely must.

May 15, 17 11:57 am

Don't forget various UL rated deluge fire suppression systems, shutters, curtains, etc. that can be used.  

My best bang for the buck trick is a coiled fire-rated shutter that closes the window opening and drops out of the ceiling.  Lots of code tricks too like open stairs, smoke stops, positive air and/or smoke evac, atrium, etc. 

May 15, 17 2:50 pm

And if this is an exterior application, there are ways around a rated exterior enclosure.  This would depend on the proximity of the adjacent structures, building type, etc.  It's all nicely spelled out in the IBC. 

May 15, 17 3:40 pm

We use side sprinkler over glazing to cool down in case of fire, delaying time of collapsing but we don't use fire rated curtain because i think it,s very expensive 

Dec 12, 19 3:20 pm
Non Sequitur

Sprinkler on glass is just part of the life safety design and is not considered part of a fire-rated separation. It's a pretty complicated thing to design around and is heavily regulated in my area.

I'd have to double check the IBC but I don't think this is prescriptively allowed anymore (something about wanting passive systems for protection rather than active systems). If you want to do it you have to get it approved by the AHJ.

Which section indicates using of passive system rather than active, as they should be working together

Non Sequitur

IBC does not apply to me since my local codes are more developed, but I believe EI is correct. If this is for school, then who cares, but if this is a real project, hire a fire consultant if you don’t know what you’re designing.

2018 IBC, Section 703.4, Automatic Sprinklers, "Under the prescriptive fire-resistance requirements of this code, the fire-resistance rating of a building element, component or assembly shall be established without the use of automatic sprinklers or any other fire suppression system being incorporated as part of the assembly tested in accordance with the fire exposure, procedures and acceptance criteria specified in ASTM E119 or UL 263. However, this section shall not prohibit or [sic] limit the duties and powers of the building official allowed by Sections 104.10 and 104.11." Emphasis mine. 

If I'm not mistaken this was added in the 2012 IBC.

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: