Windows, important for visibility and light, can nonetheless be a fire hazard. Even before a window is in direct contact with flames, the intense heat of a nearby fire can cause the glass to break. And a broken window allows flames to enter a building easily. In addition, the heat from a fire outside might be enough to simply ignite flammable items inside a home without direct contact.
To protect your house, consider installing fire-resistant windows. One example is dual-paned glass windows, which, in addition to providing energy efficiency, also double the time it would take for fire to break the windows. The outer layer will break first before the inner layer. Tempered glass, which is heat-treated to make it about four times stronger than regular glass, is also effective.
Though they don't provide visibility, glass blocks are extremely fire-resistant while still providing light. Perhaps the best is wired glass, which is tempered glass with metal wire reinforcement. Doors that require fire resistance but also visibility often incorporate wired glass windows.
It's also wise to note the importance of window framing. Steel framing offers the best fire protection, followed by wood and aluminum. Vinyl is the least effective.
On the next page, find out which noncombustible material makes it harder for fire to spread.