Interview with Petko Pachev on Fire-Rated Windows

Petko Pachev is a leading figure in the aluminium market of Bulgaria and an expert in all kinds of extruded products. He has more than 17 years of experience in the fields of business and product development of aluminium systems. 

Today, we are seeking for his experience in Fire Rated Systems for Windows and Doors. 

What are fire-rated systems?

Those are systems that are used in fire protection and evacuation areas in buildings.

The most common types are made of steel or aluminum. The steel systems are mostly used in places where the design and appearance are not the main goal while the case with aluminum solutions is the opposite. The Aluminum systems with FR glass fillings are much more aesthetic and add value to offices and residential buildings.

What EI-60, EI90, EI120 etc. means?

The EI means integrity and insulation.

E – Integrity. This is the ability of the system to stop fire from spreading to an unexposed side as a result of penetration of flames or smoke.

I – Insulation. This is the ability of the system to restrict the temperature rise of the non-heated side to below specified levels during the fire.

All the above-mentioned symbols are followed by as a time limit in minutes. The number after a given symbol shows the time the performance criteria is fulfilled during a standardized fire test.      Ex: EI30, EI60, EI90 etc.

Do such systems need special equipment / knowledge by subcontractors?

The production of aluminum fire-rated systems is almost the same as the solutions with non-FR classes yet there are some very specific machining, assembly and installation processes that are far more complex and require specialized knowledge and accreditation. The main differences are the following:

  • The fire-rated systems are much heavier than the standard ones therefore special equipment for handling and transportation is required.
  • It takes more time for machining and assembly of the fire-rated systems.

Is there anything else subcontractors should have in mind concerning fire-rated solutions?

It is very often that I see inquiries for very big dimensions of fire-rated glasses and subcontractors should have in mind the heavy weight of the fire-rated glass. For example: EI60 glass weight is around 45kg/m², EI90 glass is around 50kg/m², EI120 glass is around 60kg/m². Decision makers should think about situations when a glass need to be replaced when the building is operational. In cases where aesthetics is a must I advise my partners to use fire-rated solution with silicon gap on vertical instead of aluminum profiles.

I also recommend to subcontractors to choose fire-rated glass with the longest warranty period as the glass cost is among the most significant in the final product.

Finally, and not least importantly, the decisions about fire-rated systems should be taken always having in mind that those solutions are intended to save lives.