Stopping an Active Threat at the Door
Cameras, alarms, and access controls are vitally important, but a physical barrier to entry is essential to saving lives in the first minutes of an incident.
Locked doors and windows offer no real protection from a determined intruder if the glass is not upgraded. An assailant will simply smash their way in with a single gunshot or strike with a solid object. To effectively keep threats out of a building, the glass needs to be fortified.
Now that the need for a more robust glass has been established, we need to examine which solution will be the best for your facility. Many school administrators and security consultants struggle with which security glass or glazing systems are appropriate for an anticipated threat level. Forced entry glass, ballistic glass, security window films, framing attachment systems, and unbreakable glazing are among the many options you must choose from. To assist you in sorting through these options, let’s break down the pros and cons of each.
Security window films, also known simply as security films, are an attractive solution due to the lower cost and relatively straight forward installation process. Applied to your existing glass, security films are designed to hold broken shards of glass together, making it more difficult for an intruder to access the building. The effectiveness of security films depends on three main factors:
- the glass type
- the films thickness
- whether or not the film is attached to the frame
For security film to work optimally, the film should be 8 mil or thicker and attached to the frame with a mechanical or liquid attachment system. The glass should be annealed. Annealed glass breaks into larger shards and films can hold it together more effectively in larger pieces. This type of glass is not used around entrances because it is dangerous when broken. The large shards can severely injure anyone encountering it during an accidental impact. Tempered glass is most used for entrance glass because it breaks into small pebble-like pieces which are safer in an accident. Security films are not effective against a determined intruder on tempered glass due to its unstable nature when broken. Since most active threats try to enter a building at an entrance, window films are inherently weak and should not be used on tempered glass to mitigate active threats. This makes security films a very low-level security measure and not likely to be effective in a violent attack on a facility.
Forced entry glass is used to replace your existing glass and can slow down an intruder’s entry. It is sometimes referred to as FE glass for short. FE glass comes in many thicknesses but is most commonly sized to fit your existing framing. The thickness and number of layers of glass and plastics laminated together determine the strength of FE glass. FE glass is not bullet resistant in most cases and is primarily designed to thwart smash and grab theft. When struck with a heavy object, FE glass will break and may perform similarly to security filmed glass – especially if it is thin to accommodate the original framing. To ensure the glass is thick enough to be effective, a retrofit framing can be purchased to accommodate a thicker FE glass. Riot Glass, LLC is a manufacturer of special retrofit framing that can be mounted in your existing window and door frames to accommodate thicker FE glass systems which are highly effective when compared to security films or thinner FE glass.
Ballistic glass is extremely effective at preventing an intruder from entering a building and has the added benefit of stopping bullets that may be fired by an assailant. Ballistic glass, also known as bullet resistant or BR glass, comes in many thicknesses for protection against various ammunition and firearms. BR glass can be retrofitted using Riot Glass® framing that fits within your existing frames. The cost of BR glass is quite high when compared to FE glass requiring a significantly higher project budget.
Unbreakable glass solutions are light weight polycarbonate panels that can be retrofitted onto existing window and door frames for extremely effective active threat mitigation. New technology from Riot Glass® allows for adaptation to almost any existing glazing system. Like the other technologies mentioned, unbreakable glazing comes in many different thicknesses, but even the thinner and less expensive models are highly effective at stopping an armed assailant.
Conclusion: There are a wide variety of options for securing the windows and glass doors in your building and each option has greatly varying levels of effectiveness in slowing or stopping an active threat. For a complete threat assessment of your building and product recommendations that will fit your budget, contact the glazing specialists at Riot Glass, LLC.
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