Fire Rated Windows

Fire rated windows have been installed in buildings across Australia for many years before the Building Code of Australia (BCA) was adopted under various building regulations. The BCA has formalised the use and construction of fire rated windows which becomes an essential safety measure when a building is occupied under an occupation certificate, occupancy permit, certificate of classification, and cerfiticate construction compliance. Fire rated windows are provided under the BCA to protect life and property from the risk of flame and heat transmission.

Building Code of Australia

Acceptable methods of construction for fire rated windows is nominated in Clause 3.4 of the BCA, part extract of this clause for fire rated windows follows:

C3.4 Acceptable methods of protection (fire rated windows)

(a) Where protection is required, doorways, windows and other openings must be protected as follows:

(i) Doorways –

(A) internal or external wall-wetting sprinklers as appropriate used with doors that are self-closing or automatic closing; or
(B) -/60/30 fire doors that are self-closing or automatic closing.

(ii) Windows –

(A) internal or external wall-wetting sprinklers as appropriate used with windows that are automatic closing or permanently fixed in the closed position; or
(B) -/60/- fire windows that are automatic closing or permanently fixed in the closed position; or
(C) -/60/- automatic closing fire shutters.

A number of leading manufacturers of fire rated windows have had their fire rated windows tested under AS1530.4-2005 Methods for the tests on building materials, components and structures – Fire – resistance tests of elements of construction and AS/NZS1530.3-1999 Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures – Simultaneous determination of ignitability, flame propagation, heat release and smoke release. Fire rated windows manufacturers through modern technology have been able to demonstrate via testing that they can provide fire rated windows with higher fire resistance levels (FRL’s) than those shown in Clause C3.4 above for fire rated windows.

The following photograph depicts fire rated windows installed in an external wall.

The following photograph depicts fire rated windows installed in an internal wall which requires a fire resistance rating.

The following is a part extract of clause I1.1 for an Essential Safety Measure (as appeared in BCA 2013) known as fire rated windows:

Table I1.1 Safety Measures – Building Fire Integrity

Safety Measures BCA Provision for Determining Standard of Performance
Fire rated windows C3.4, C3.8, C3.11,D1.7,D1.8

Principally fire rated windows are static elements on occasions have automatic closing devices (usable links) for closing fire rated window openings. Building surveyors/building certifiers nominate fire rated windows in essential safety measures list/schedule/schedule essential safety provisions for ongoing inspection, maintenance and recording in the essential safety measures logbook. Table I1.3 nominates fire rated windows as an essential safety measure, but doesn’t provide guidance on inspection or maintenance. The essential safety measures auditor to ensure fire safety compliance when inspecting a fire window that obviously needs maintenance works to occur must be aware of the type of fire rated windows tested under the BCA for design approval, and nominate maintenance works to bring fire rated windows in accordance with the original fire test that established the FRL to allow signing the Annual Statement, Annual Certificate Compliance, Annual Fire Safety Statement, Annual Maintenance Statement and Annual Occupiers Statement. Our inspections reveal only experienced auditors are aware of these situations.