School Security: Product Development for Forced Entry Protection

By Ellen Rogers

In the world of school security, every second matters, and protective glazing has continued to evolve to meet this need. Companies are enhancing and further developing products for added protection. In years past, that focus was on blasts and ballistics. Today, companies have shifted to what they see as the main threat: forced entry. New products and codes are designed to delay entry or thwart it all together.

“Technologies for blast resistance really haven’t changed much,” says Ben Baum, vice president of security sales for Consolidated Glass Holdings. “The most immediate threat for schools and other public spaces is about delaying access.”

As an example, Baum says elementary through secondary schools are among the largest security markets right now.

“There is an immediate need in demand,” he says. His company developed a product for these applications called Childgard that’s ideal for retrofits, because it fits into standard frame sizes to provide delayed entry. It can also be used in new construction.

Tom Haines, mid-Atlantic regional sales manager for Graham Architectural Products, agrees the biggest product changes have been in school security glass.

“It’s a lighter product, and more for forced entry than ballistics,” he says, explaining these products are usually constructed with laminated glass, rather than heavier glass-clad polycarbonate.

“The intent is to slow the intruder down, creating layers of security that will impede access to the school,” he says. “Some of these products do have minor ballistics capabilities, but that’s tough [to include] because of budgets. Cost is a huge factor for schools.”

Speaking of budgets, Haines says there have been situations where schools request simply putting in laminated glass, but that’s not an ideal option.

“It’s still got be a complete system, just as with blast,” says Haines.

It’s important that the schools understand the reason for the higher
costs, adds Baum.

“What makes a fabricator’s products different from one another is their R&D, unique materials, and testing to meet certain industry requirements,” says Baum. “Also, architects often don’t promote security glass for schools because it creates a liability if the glass doesn’t do what it’s supposed to.”

Product testing is also a consideration when developing new protective glazing systems. While there are standards and specifications for blast- and bullet-resistant products, none have yet been developed for delayed entry specifically, but the main consideration is how long it takes an intruder to break through the glass. Voluntary standards commonly referenced for forced-entry include:

• ASTM F1233, Standard Test Method for Security Glazing Materials and Systems;
• ASTM F1915, Standard Test Methods for Glazing for Detention Facilities;
• HP White, which addresses blunt and sharp impact, as well as ballistics;
• UL 972, Standard for Burglary Resisting Glazing Material; and
• ASTM E2395, Standard Specification for Voluntary Security Performance of Window and Door Assemblies with Glazing Impact.

Haines adds that a group within ASTM is also working on school security guidelines and specification, Mitigation of Armed Aggressors in Educational Institutions.

“A group of volunteers from the security segment are putting together specs and guidelines to have the best practices/what to look at when trying to harden schools systems,” he says.

The task group is a joint effort between ASTM F12, Security Systems and Equipment, and E54, Homeland Security Applications. For glazing they are evaluating ASTM E2395, which provides multiple options and is mostly mechanical, rather than human-driven for more consistent testing.

Standards and specifications are voluntary, however, unless required by code. So it’s important for contract glaziers and architects to understand the products available and their performance features.

“When a glazing company is looking at security glass, unless it is something they work with all of the time, they need to work with their supplier to make sure they know exactly what they are getting,” says Baum. “The best way for them to do this is to question what testing and or certification the glass products have to meet for the requirements of their
application and needs.”

Baum says this uncertainty can also be a challenge for those involved in the building project.

“If you’re the director of security for a school and you’ve been advised to look at replacement security glass for your entranceways, that person might not know who to talk to about it.”

He adds, though, that the security glazing industry is very much in demand, which provides a good business opportunity for contract glaziers and for architects. He says having this specific knowledge of the industry will be important as this market segment continues to grow.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.