What Security Personnel Should Know About the Vulnerabilities of Tempered Glass

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has proposed new school safety standards, including the reinforcement of easily accessible windows. Security professionals across the US have taken notice and are considering similar upgrades. Understanding the differences in existing glass type is crucial to securing the most vulnerable areas.

What Security Personnel Should Know About the Vulnerabilities of Tempered Glass

Tempered glass is ideal for safety but highly undesirable for security. Tempered, laminated, or unbreakable glass is required by code in and around building entry glazing, floor to ceiling windows, and anywhere accidental human impact is considered more likely. The reasoning is simple – prevent large shards of glass that can cause severe injury or death in an accidental breakage.

Tempered safety glass is most used in these areas because it is less expensive and lighter weight than most other safety glass. Designed to break into tiny cubes rather than large shards, tempered glass is excellent for safety but what most security professionals don’t realize is that it is insufficient for security, even when protected with a thick security window film. The break pattern makes tempered glass unstable and more easily dislodged from the frame.

Wet glazed or mechanical attachments systems are often utilized to help hold the glass and film in the frame when shattered, but an assailant with a heavy tool can easily breach the door in seconds by punching a hole large enough to get a hand through enabling the panic egress hardware or thumb turn on the lock to be manipulated.

An alternative to tempered glass is a standard laminated safety glass which consists of a plasticised polyvinyl butyral (PVB) layer sandwiched between two thin sheets of annealed glass. This creates a similar level of protection to security window film applied to standard glass. It is certainly stronger than unprotected glass but can be breached in seconds.

To meet the increasing intensity of attacks and to compensate for the heavier tools commonly used by criminals today, security professionals should consider a more effective solution for beefing up the most vulnerable areas with virtually unbreakable glazing.

Riot Glass® has developed a retrofittable system that can convert tempered doors and windows into a high security, formidable barrier to entry. The manufacturer’s patented ArmorPlast® line consists of single or dual pane glazing panels and retrofit framing that securely holds the system in place, even under extremely heavy attacks. This video shows a standard laminated door glass being breached in under 6 seconds, while the ArmorPlast® system keeps the assailant out for a prolonged period.

Although all ArmorPlast® systems are virtually unbreakable, the product line is available in varying levels of protection ranging from forced entry to bullet resistant. Underwriter’s Laboratory standards for bullet resistant materials is known as UL752.

The most common civilian retrofits are levels 1-3 which protect against pistol rounds of varying caliber, grain weight, and velocity. Level 1 is the most popular solution due to its light weight an affordability. This video shows a standard commercial door with ArmorPlast® AP75 level 1 system installed. The door itself is not rated, but the infill system is. This concept is tantamount to a bullet resistant vest worn by police and military personnel. It covers the vulnerable “center of mass”, the clear glass where most attackers focus. It effectively stops rounds from passing through the protected parts of the door as well as preventing a breach large enough to gain entry.

Criminals have evolved and are using heavier tools, firearms, and forced entry tactics that require an appropriate response from security professionals. The old ways of protecting buildings from forced entry may not be effective in an attack. Riot Glass® specializes in solutions tailored to today’s need for increased protection in light weight, affordable, and easily implemented solutions for campus security professionals to utilized in overall security upgrade initiatives.

For more information visit www.riotglass.com or call 855-416-5480 to speak to a security glazing specialist.

Tagged with: Riot Glass

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