Volume 16, Issue 6 - November/December 2012

feature

Preventing Attacks
Exploring the Role of Security Films and Protective Glazings
by Casey Neeley

Recent U.S. embassy attacks have left many people wondering what preventative measures can be taken to thwart future attacks, as well as lessen the severity of damage resulting from intrusions, riots and explosions. An understanding of protective glazings and security films can help not only consumers, but window film dealers and manufacturers bring awareness to the benefits offered to high-risk buildings as well as homes and small businesses.

What Happened?
Security films are used on a variety of government buildings, though mostly in secret.

During her September 13, 2012 daily press briefing following the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, “We are extremely cautious in any circumstances about talking publicly about our security arrangements. You can understand that the more we talk about these things, the more difficult it is to maintain security at your facilities.”

Though the State Department declined to comment on the protective glazings and films that may have been used on the embassies at the focus of recent attacks, members of the window film industry were willing to share their knowledge of how these products can help reduce the impact of such attacks.

Government Films
Several government buildings currently have security films and protective glazings installed, such as the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington D.C., J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, Department of Energy, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Building and the Ronald Reagan Building.

“With the ever-present threat of terrorism, commercial and government building safety has never been a higher priority. High-risk areas now include just about every major city of the world. Even buildings in the outlying areas are susceptible to major damage if an explosion should occur. The shock wave exerts enormous amounts of pressure, breaking unprotected glass and sending harmful shards into an environment at high velocities,” says Lawrence Constantin, director of sales in the Americas for SolarGard.

“As long as that building isn’t falling down, [security films] can prevent a lot of intrusion,” adds Hann Kim, CEO of STM (Solar Transmission Management) and winner of the International Window Film Tint-Off Architectural Division™. “Any highly-sensitive buildings, where there is a high chance of terrorist attacks, I highly recommend installing these films.”

In light of the recent attacks, Scott Haddock, vice president of the Protective Glazing Council and president of GlassLock Inc., predicts changes are likely for the current regulatory codes established for high-risk buildings.

“A lot of [regulation changes] are based on things that have happened. I think there will be changes made based on whatever will be required for the federal government,” says Haddock. “I think the State Department is going to be stepping up their requirements after what happened.”

Though they may control the regulations, the government does not typically select the films that are installed on these buildings, however.

“The government does rely heavily on blast consultants who put together the recommendations and do site inspections. Then we, as a provider, offer whatever they recommend at that point,” says Haddock.

Selling Security
Window film dealers can get involved more heavily in the sale and installation of security films.

“For dealers that are in the security film business, just the smash and grab, low-level security [film] requirement [easiest to sell],” says Haddock. “The most marketable films [for residential consumers] are natural disaster, hazard and forced entry [films].”

Security films also make an excellent add-on feature for customers looking to install solar or heat-resistant films.

“I think it’s good once dealers are brought up-to-date on the products then they can help to educate the customers,” says Haddock. “They may originally have contacted us for solar control and then I had the opportunity to upsell. You can see what the customer’s concerns and requirements are and if you can offer additional services.”

To increase market presence in addition to consumer education, Haddock also recommends strategic alliances.

“Align yourself with alarm companies and glass companies,” says Haddock. These companies then help offer your security work in conjunction with their services. The combined sale offers a higher degree of security which is what consumers looking for protective measures are seeking.

According to Kim, the peace of mind offered to consumers who install security films is the top selling feature.

“If the buildings are retrofitted with anti-intrusion films, the integrity of that glass would be held in place and you could prevent the entry into that building,” says Kim. “Unprotected glass breaks. You could prevent that entry anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, if not prevent it entirely. That is priceless.”

Increasing Awareness
Continuing efforts to raise customer understanding of protective glazings and security films is paramount to increasing the legitimacy and sale of these films.

“Human nature is what it is,” says Haddock. “In the wake of Hurricane Andrew and some of the other windstorm events, we became very conscious of [security]. If we aren’t going through the event we tend to put it on the backburner.”

Consistently informing consumers of the benefits of installing security films and protective glazings before an extreme event occurs will not only grant consumers peace of mind in the security of their buildings, but also strengthen consumer confidence in the dealers and manufacturers whose products they purchase.

Casey Neeley is the editor of Window Film magazine. She can be reached at cneeley@glass.com. Follow her on Twitter at @windowfilmmag and on Facebook by searching Window Film Magazine.


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