School Security Glazing FAQs
Frequently asked questions regarding school security glazing requirements and applications, answered by NGA task group members.
How do we get started?
“The first step is a risk assessment. Determine the vulnerabilities and build a plan to address.”—Tom Niziolek, commercial director, optical and graphics, SWM International
What is the appropriate level of security performance that should be used in my school?
“Currently, there is not a published requirement in building codes, so there are no established test standards that may be used to help narrow down the products that should be considered. Our position is that any product offering additional security measures, such as forced entry or bullet resistance, that is added to the list of consideration should have been tested at an accredited laboratory. Additionally, a window or door assembly purchased for school security purposes, is only as good as the weakest link. If a tested glass product is used in a window with component parts that have not been tested, it is possible that the assembly may fail during an incident. … This is why a complete, integrated system approach is so valuable when it comes to life safety and security.” –Devin Bowman, general manager, Technical Glass Products and AD Systems.
What does it mean when a specification calls for ‘security glazing’? Is ‘bulletproof’ glass required?
“Security glazing can be designed to deter opportunistic attacks like vandalism and burglary all the way up to forced entry and ballistic protection. It really does depend on what type of threat the client is looking to protect against. Once this fundamental question is answered, then it is easier to answer what security glazing means, if bullet-resistant glazing is needed, and what test method and performance level is required. … Laminated safety glass, while performing better than monolithic safety glass, can be used for low-level security glazing like someone running into the glass. However, it is not enough to delay entry for very long or provide resistance to a ballistic threat. As the threat level increases, the glass design will need to change as well. Typical changes include increasing the interlayer thickness and adding multiple layers of glass and interlayer.”—Vaughn Schauss, manager, technical consultancy Americas, Kuraray America Inc.
Do you have a recommendation for glazing that can deter entry without being bullet-resistant?
“There are many configurations of laminated glass available to address the severity and risk of attack for schools, without putting in bullet-resistant glass. We understand that cost is always a concern and it is trumped only by the protection of those in the school. In such cases, a simple laminated safety glass (ANSI Z97.1 Cat II Type I) can slow the entry of an attacker when put in common entrance areas. That can be scaled up to higher and higher levels of security glazing to give you additional time to enact the shelter-in-place protocols. The most common simple solution is a burglary-resistant glazing (ASTM F1233 Class 1) or a hurricane interlayer-based glazing that could thwart an attack for minutes. It all depends upon the threat, risk and protection level desired.”—Julia Schimmelpenningh, industry technical leader, Customer Applications and Support Lab manager, Eastman Chemical Co.
Can window film be used as an inexpensive option for making windows bullet-resistant?
“Window films are not a primary component to any bullet-resistant glazing. Window films prevent secondary injuries from glass shattering at a velocity that makes it hazardous to individuals on the safe side of the glass. However, the International Window Film Association agrees film is not a substitute for bullet-resistant glazing.”—Paul Mouton, direct of public relations, Midwest Glass Fabricators
Can security glazing fit into my budget?
“There are a number of retrofit and new glazing options available on the market today to satisfy a variety of performance needs from basic safety up to multiple threat, forced entry protective glazing. Look into funding resources at a city, county, state, and even federal to help.”—Niziolek
What kind of resources are out there to help?
“Your local community law enforcement, [school resource officer], and even school district building and maintenance [officials] are good knowledge resources to start. On a national level, organizations like the American Institute of Architects and National Glass Association … are also helpful.”—Niziolek
Learn More with the NGA
The NGA published a new School Security Glazing Glass Technical Paper, available for immediate download in the NGA Store. The GTP provides information on delayed forced entry security glazing options for windows and doors installed in schools. It contains an easy-to-read quick reference chart to help narrow product choices based on level of security.