Fire Rated Timber Windows
Following the terrible Grenfell fire tragedy which shocked the world on June 2017, building safety – particularly regarding social housing and tower blocks – has been under the microscope more than ever.
Whilst there were obvious shortcomings that lead to the terrible incident at Grenfell, questions have also been raised as to whether the materials used when building these properties are the best choice.
In particular, councils and housing associations are looking at the materials used for windows and questioning their safety. For many years tower blocks have been built with standard plastic UPVC windows installed. This was seen as an easy way to get window frames mass-produced quickly and installed, however, their fire safety has raised significant concerns. It has become apparent that when these windows hit a certain temperature – Melting temperatures range from 212°F to 500°F (100°C to 260°C) depending upon manufacture additives to the PVC – such as during a fire, they begin to melt, and release toxic fumes which can cause serious danger to anyone who breathes them in.
Because of this, many councils are now looking at timber windows as a safer alternative for installation to provide greater fire protection. Not only can fire rated windows provide fantastic thermal insulating qualities, but they are also a much more natural product than UPVC, and therefore in the event of a fire would not melt and release harmful fumes from the chemicals used in the creation of plastic.
Not only that, but by using fire-resistant timber windows tested to the highest standards, these windows can actually withstand intense fire for anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour, helping to maintain the integrity of the building, whilst keeping any inhabitants much safer. The fire-rated timber window frames can also be fitted with fire-rated glazing for further safety.
Wood also has a higher combustion point than plastic, meaning that fire rated windows and doors with rated glass will remain strong and safe under much more punishing conditions than plastic equivalents. Wood does not have a melting point; it breaks down chemically when heated in the absence of oxygen.
If we are to prevent further loss of life in horrible, avoidable tragedies, then we as a country do need a real rethink of the way that we construct our buildings, and it does appear that the tide is turning from plastic to the much safer and stronger timber – and rightly so in our opinion.
For more information regarding fire rated timber windows for any project – be it social housing or private property – please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today and we will be more than happy to answer any questions and give you our expert opinions.