December 2020

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30 | D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 0 Fire Protection Systems P H OTO G R A P H Y BY CO R E Y GA F F ER /CO U RT E SY V E T ROT EC H SA I N T- GO BA I N N A Fire protection systems market is witnessing substantial growth by ROBIN BRUNET Damage Control A s the push to develop a safer world continues, the market growth of fire protection sys- tems is unprecedented. The Canadian government alone spent over $34-million annu- ally on such systems from 2018 to 2019, according to Allied Market Research, which also notes that thousands of building fires occur- ring daily across North America combined with increasing urbanization means that demand for safety glass, sprinklers, alarms, and other systems will grow well into the future (with fire analysis expected to enjoy the biggest growth rate). One sector where technological advancement is particularly noticeable is fire-rated safety glass. "The more advanced systems contain heat as well as fire, which addresses the problem of heat during fires being so intense that it can transmit through ordinary glass and ignite objects or burn people," says Diana San Diego, VP of marketing at Safti First, the manufacturer of fire rated glass and framing products for commercial buildings worldwide. "This allows developers to use this form of safety glass as an architectural building element, in stairwells, entrances, and other areas that might otherwise be closed off." It's also the ideal solution to the undesirable scenario of sprinklers trying to compensate for non- rated glass being used in places where fire rated glass is required, which can lead to the non-rated glass falling out of the opening and spreading smoke, flames, and heat to other parts of the building. Safti First's SuperLite 11-XLB 60 fire-resistive glaz- ing was recently used on the BART Milpitas Transit Center in California, where architects placed a cen- tre skylight directly above the welcome hall and two skylights on either side, allowing natural light to flow vertically through the two levels of the facility. SuperLite was also used in a butt-glazed application to eliminate vertical mullions, and the SuperLite glass panels were stacked on top of each other (with fire resistive framing) to increase the height of the transparent, butt-glazed wall area. "This is a great example of how advanced fire rated glass can con- tribute to esthetic design," says San Diego. For the Nordstrom Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, Safti First's fire resistive, CAN/ULC S101 rated SuperLite 11-XL 120 with Starphire Ultra-Clear glazing in GPX Architectural Series Wall Framing was used not only to meet fire rated code require- ments but also bring much-needed maximum vision and daylight to the parking garage. "Both the two-hour and the 90-minute fire resistive glazing were insulated with pattern sandblast glass to create a decorative effect," says San Diego. SuperLite 11-XL 120 with low-iron Starphire Ultra-Clear glass was also used in the world's largest Starbucks, in Chicago, as floor-to-ceiling butt-glazed glass walls (comprised of 10-foot by four-foot panels) for a two-hour fire rated enclosed stairwell – which provides guests with a spectacular 7,980-square- inch clear view area of the facility and its artwork. Vetrotech Saint-Gobain provides fire-resistant glass solutions that keep building occupants safe and also contribute to esthetic appeal, as evidenced by commercial projects such as the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota (which used Vetratech's Contraflam, whose single or multi-chamber fire-resistant glass containing an environmentally- friendly intumescent interlayer provides full heat insulation for fire compartmentalization) and San Diego's The Plunge (also a showcase for Contraflam). Kevin Norcross, general manager of Vetrotech Saint-Gobain in North America, describes 2020 as "Business as un-usual. Once COVID hit, we doubled- down on our number one goal of our employees' health, while still running a global business." He adds that the pandemic "is wreaking havoc on construction schedules. Our customers are balancing many moving deadlines as situations change seemingly daily around the country. Lots of glazing contractors need their projects 'right now,' requiring manufacturers like Vetrotech to be more nimble – which is one of the reasons we expanded our facilities." Vetrotech recently con- solidated its glazing and framing manufacturing in North America, effectively doubling its facility size and allowing the company to turn projects around quicker for customers. Norcross goes on to note that, "School safety has been an important trend recently for obvious rea- sons. Education projects continue to increase, but it will be interesting to see what the future brings after the pandemic: will school designs change? Will we see a larger remodel market? With depleted bud- gets, how will these projects be funded? All to be determined in 2021, I think." In the broad realm of fire-rated windows and doors, the Aluflam fire-rated aluminum window and door systems are unique. That's because only Aluflam offers all-aluminum entrances, which meet CAN/ULC S101 fire-resistive "Temperature Rise" requirements and are esthetically pleasing to boot. Toronto-based Fred Fulton is the Aluflam rep- resentative for Ontario and Quebec (as well as the Ontario representative for Vetrotech), and he notes that Aluflam now has a new one-hour fire rated alu- minum curtain wall that was originally developed as a one-off for a project in Texas earlier this year, but is now available for widespread use. He says, "We're the only company that pro- vides an all-aluminum curtain wall, the AW64, that matches standard non-rated profiles. It resembles a normal curtain wall, but its construction is very different, and its five-inch back is designed to with- stand higher wind loads, among other features." Mall of America, Bloomington, MN

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