The glass and glazing industry has strived to do its part to ensure school safety. After eight months of dedicated efforts, the industry is now one step closer to having a universal standard that will help create a safe and secure learning environment.
A new ASTM International document, Standard Test Method for Forced-Entry-Resistance of Fenestration Systems After Simulated Active Shooter Attack, was created through the ASTM F12 Security Committee. The standard will help school districts choose from a range of high-performance products that will add additional protection to schools.
Work on the standard test method began on Nov. 21, 2021. It is now pending a successful full ASTM International review prior to publication. The complete and published document is expected to be cleared for publication within ASTM by August 1.
The frequency of school shootings prompted the National Glass Association to form a school security task group to create a relevant international standard that attempts to slow and prevent intruders from entering facilities through locked fenestration. Following a review of applicable security test methods, the task group identified gaps in the referenceable standards such as repeatable, mode-driven, consensus-based fenestration test methods, which included system weakening and forced entry.
“This standard should yield a good selection of accessible high-performance products that when incorporated properly may add a highly functional layer of protection for schools,” says Julia Schimmelpenningh, technical engagement manager for Eastman Chemical Co. in Springfield, Mass., laminating technical liaison for the association’s Fabricating Committee and a member of the school security task group. “The goal is to help minimize the number of injuries or fateful occurrences by deterring active shooter scenarios.”
The push for a standard in security products follows a history of mass shootings in schools throughout the country. The most recent was at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were murdered by a lone gunman with a high-powered rifle.
The new test method includes weakening of the fenestration system with projectiles followed by mechanically driven impact to simulate an active shooter weakening the system and trying to force their way in. Fenestration products are rated on eight levels of forced-entry resistance. The test gives a range of performance options with easy-to-assess pass/fail criteria and will give specifiers performance and cost options to fit their needs.
“It’s a rating for full fenestration products and systems,” Schimmelpenningh says of the test. “It’s mechanically driven. So, there’s no human variable, and there are very, very clear pass/fail criteria so that we do not have to leave it for interpretation.”
The test includes 10 shots from a single weapon and ammo type that is fired onto the glazing in a tight burst. The only weapon that is used is the AR-15 with 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition. The AR-15 was selected because it is the most commonly used weapon in attacks, Schimmelpenningh says.
The test also includes impacts after the initial weakening. This is done with a 100-pound impacter at center mass. There are eight different drop heights with the impacter at the same weight.
Kevin Norcross, general manager, Vetrotech Saint-Gobain North America, also advocates on the importance of school security.
“There is only so much our industry can control, so the right move is to focus on how our products can make our communities safer,” he says. “Ultimately, the best approach is a holistic one that involves solutions from many, many sectors. We can do our part in helping make schools a safe zone through standards like these, and more.”
I am a US Marine, Architectural Engineer, Building Envelope Consultant and a Fenestration Master. I have been pushing to present an upgrade evaluation for schools, yet it seems to fall on deaf ears. The focus would be to keep the shooter out for at least as long as the police response time. Then also work with the school staff, law enforcement and the fire department to develop a school specific plan that complements the approved upgrades. Physical upgrades could include reglazing with vandal resistant glass through replacing with ballistic rate fenestration. (ground level)