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[Image above] Credit: Sylvain Pedneault; Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0

Fires are dangerous, but not as dangerous as they used to be.

The United States Fire Administration reports that fire death rates worldwide have fallen in the past few decades. In the U.S., the fire-related death rate has dropped 21 percent in the past decade alone.

One way to protect people from building fires is to make fire escape routes more effective and safer. Fire-rated glass ceramics can help—unlike traditional glass, these materials have virtually no thermal expansion, so they won’t crack or explode under intense heat.

Using transparent fire-rated glass ceramics in the windows and doors that line fire escape routes can help protect inhabitants from heat, flames, and smoke until they can navigate out and away from the building. And, compared to solid walls and doors, transparent glass ceramics allow people to see what paths are clear or obstructed, further helping them to make a safe escape.  

Schott manufactures a line of glass ceramics called Pyran Platinum, which, according to their website, is the first environmentally-friendly, fire-rated, floated transparent glass ceramic.

It’s pretty amazing what these glass ceramic panels can endure, and equally impressive to see the lengths to which Schott goes to ensure that they will indeed endure in the line of fire.

Before giving their glass ceramics a fire rating, Schott first tests Pyran Platinum panels with a fire endurance test, which ensures that the material can keep flames and smoke at bay even during prolonged exposure to extremely hot temperatures. The glass ceramic must display no signs of cracking, deforming, or otherwise losing integrity during the test, which approaches temperatures of 1000 degrees Celsius.

But just withstanding intense heat is not enough—the glass ceramics must also maintain form during heavy temperature changes and blasts of pressure. So, Schott then performs a hose stream test on a blistering hot panel fresh from the fire endurance test. And in case you were thinking “hose” meant garden hose, think bigger—they blast each panel with a massive fire hose.

Watch both tests in action in the videos below.

At the end of the day, Schott makes sure that their panels exhibit no signs of breakage or loss of integrity during this rigorous testing protocol. Only after it has received this clean bill of health is the material deemed fire-rated and worthy of protecting people from danger.

Credit: SchottTGS; YouTube

Credit: SchottTGS; YouTube