This coming December 12 will mark ten years since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Do you remember how you felt when you heard about that tragedy? Did you hug your kids a little bit closer that night? Ten years later, it’s still difficult to think about.
You might remember that in the months following, there were so many questions from parents, teachers, lawmakers and others across the country. How can we make schools safer?
In January 2013, I attended what was then the Glass Association of North America’s (which is now part of the National Glass Association) Annual Conference. That’s where our industry first began talking about school safety and security. During that meeting, industry consultant Thom Zaremba told us that the number of industries attempting to develop responses to the tragedy was growing quickly. But the common thread: hardening the exterior envelope, particularly the glass. He said, though, that even with a stronger envelope, it will be important to consider capabilities and mechanisms that can improve how quickly and efficiently law enforcement officers, first responders, etc., can respond and arrive.
A standard, he suggested, that would put all of this together as a requirement that relates to a sensible system for new schools and perhaps for retrofitting will likely be necessary.
“As far as I know, no standard-making groups have assembled to address this, but it does appear glass will have a predominant role in whatever new requirements emerge,” Zaremba said in 2013.
School safety and security has since been a top priority for the association. Thanks to that dedication, we are one step closer to making schools a safer place.
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.
The group’s work on the standard test method began last November. The document 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 availability of a standard test method is perhaps the first step in making a big difference. It will give architects, specifiers, school districts and other jurisdictions a tool to help them make their buildings safer and more secure.
As glass industry people, we know none of our products are “proof”—all systems, no matter how strong and secure, can break. But as we’ve learned, the key is to delay access and entry, providing more time for help to arrive. This standard will help move us in that direction. And, hopefully, help save more lives.