School safety and security are among the glazing industry’s most important discussions. The conversation continued this week during the National Glass Association’s Glass Conference taking place in Tacoma, Wash. During the Protective Glazing meeting, a panel discussion focused on laminated glass and window film in school security applications.
Panelists included Julie Schimmelpenningh with Eastman, who spoke as a representative of ASTM; Nick Resetar, codes consultant; and Darrell Smith, executive director of the International Window Film Association (IWFA).
Schimmelpenningh began by pointing to the development of ASTM F12, Standard Test Method for Forced-Entry-Resistance of Fenestration Systems After Simulated Active Shooter Attack, which was announced last year. She said the test method is applicable to the incidents we’ve seen—the use of AR-15s to shoot into schools and forced entry to gain access. She said the industry is working to spread awareness of the document, its adoption and the testing that is taking place.
Resetar added that code proposals for the next International Building Code cycle are due in January. The industry, through the Glazing Industry Code Committee, will be working to submit a proposal. The big thing, he said, will be collaboration and cooperation, and that includes working with other organizations such as the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association.
According to Resetar, they are looking at two main areas for this proposal: entry into the classroom and gaining access through areas of egress, such as entry doors. Forced entry is the main concern.
“The idea is to buy time for first responders to get there, not creating an impenetrable fortress,” he said. “This will require some level of security glazing around doors; it will require views from inside so teachers, administrators and other staff can see any potential threats. This will need to be compounded with some form of a lock box on the exteriors so first responders can get inside when it’s safe to do so.”
He said while they have started the process of developing a code proposal, it will take time.
“No one has made this entry into the codes before, so we have to do so thoroughly,” he said.
One of the biggest challenges to address will be the question of cost.
“We don’t have an idea on cost yet and how much it will cost to do all this,” he said. “We all agree it will increase the cost. The question is how much.”
Can Window Film Meet ASTM Requirements?
Smith spoke next and addressed the school security window film standpoint. He said the IWFA represents the retrofit market and doesn’t get involved with new construction. He said the IWFA has a strong stance that adding any type of window film to glass that doesn’t already have ballistic-resistant properties will not make it ballistic glazing.
“Every dealer or distributor that belongs to our organization has agreed to those guidelines,” he said. In many cases, sales are made to parent-teacher organizations or school boards that have seen a demonstration and are emotionally charged. The demos, he explained, imply that putting a certain film on the windows will stop the bullets. This, he said, is not true.
“If you need to do something immediately … putting a security window film on the glass will slow down entry into the building,” he said. However, if a school board has the funding, “laminated glass is the way to go. If you need to do something now, film will give you some protection and slow them down. That is the only thing you gain. This is a life safety issue, and we all work together there.”
The question was asked as to whether window film can meet the requirements of the new ASTM test method. Schimmelpenningh said the standard is performance-based, and there are eight levels. “I don’t think the standard itself was written specifically about a product, so if film products can be applied and meet those requirements, then [they could meet the requirements],” she said. “… this is not a ballistics standard. It’s performance-based, and the answer is possibly.”
Smith noted that the testing is done on a full system, so a film manufacturer must meet the application testing standard.
“Manufacturers would have to have their product tested for it [as part of the system],” he said.
There was also a question of why schools, legislators and others refer to these products as ballistic or bullet resistant instead of forced-entry resistance when referring to schools.
Schimmelpenningh said it seems like the natural instinct is to say “ballistic-resistant” when a gun is involved.
“As an industry, we need education … forced entry is what [an attacker] has to do if the entry is locked,” she said. “We need education and promotion on the steps that have to happen. We have to talk about the layers of protection.”
The Tacoma Glass Conference ends today. Stay tuned to USGNN™ as we continue to follow and report on school security efforts and developments.