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Babrauskas, Dr. Vytenis. Glass Breakage in Fires. The Fire Place. Feb-Mar 1998. p 15-17.

Abstract: Fire seeks oxygen and will sometimes break out windows and other glass to find it. The damage done in a fire can be greatly affected by whether or not the windows break out. The glass must not just crack; it must fall or break out for sufficient oxygen to aid the fireís development. Because fire ventilation openings need to be known for fire models to be used, if and when glass breaks out has become of particular interest.

There are at least two distinct types of thermal exposure glass is subjected to in a fire: exposure from an inside fire, causing immersion heating from one side and a possible temperature gradient; and exposure from an outside fire, where heating is by radiation, temperatures more uniform, and a cooling flow of air along the glass is possible.

The article briefly reviews studies of glass cracking in fires. The author puts the data together from several studies and determines that at a room gas temperature of around 450 degrees Celsius, the probability is 1/6 for thin, single pane glass to break out. Even at high heats, exterior fires did not cause glass to fall out. The author concludes that it is difficult to predict when glass will break out. Factors that influence when glass will break out include window size, frame type, glass thickness, glass defects, presence and degree of overpressure, and vertical temperature gradient.

 
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