Understanding How Glazing Can Impact Safety and Fire Protection

Specifying the right glass to protect schools, churches, and public buildings
Sponsored by National Glass Association
1 AIA LU/HSW; 0.1 IACET CEU*; 1 AIBD P-CE; SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning

Learning Objectives:

  1. Summarize the qualities of protective glazing and how they pertain to occupant security.
  2. Discuss the range of protective glazing products and the corresponding levels of protection that each can provide.
  3. List factors to consider when specifying security glazing and glazing systems in schools, churches, government buildings, and public spaces.
  4. Understand how codes and standards help specifiers choose the right products.
  5. Review key fire-rated glass and glazing requirements, considerations, and market trends.

This course is part of the Glass and Glazing Design Academy

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Codes, Standards, and Test Methods for Protective Glazing

Among the biggest tools specifiers can use when determining the proper glass and glazing products are existing codes, standards, and test methods. For centuries, mankind has understood the danger that fire can pose to building structures, therefore there are currently more resources available regarding fire protection than intrusion protection.

In 1896, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) was founded after the Industrial Revolution to help protect buildings and occupants from fire danger. The NFPA is a global self-funded nonprofit organization that aims to eliminate death, injury, and property damage caused by fires. To help reach this goal, the NFPA regularly publishes codes and standards to help minimize the risk of fire danger. These standards are widely accepted and have been adopted and implemented throughout the world.

While the threat of intruders and active shooters is very real, there are currently no mandatory building code requirements for security glazing in schools, churches, hospitals, or other public places. However, a growing number of school districts nationwide have voluntarily decided to meet security glazing standards to provide additional protection for their school buildings.

In response to the increased number of threats, ASTM International is working on an industry-wide test standard to address mitigating armed attacks on buildings, with a focus on schools. Currently, there are impact standards, forced-entry standards, and bullet- and blast-resistant standards. However, standards organizations have yet to develop a standard or test method specifically for active-shooter resistance in schools.

In the absence of an industry-wide test standard, several individual companies have developed their own test methods, and those in the industry are diligently working together to create specs that accommodate for all the variables. Many industry leaders hope they can gain consensus and publish standards by 2020.

Additionally, the National Glass Association (NGA) Fabricating Committee formed a task group to update the NGA’s Glazing Information Bulletin on school security glazing. The task group will explore developing a test method or guidelines for manufacturers looking to supply security glazing or systems for schools.

Existing Standards, Certifications, and Test Methods

While new standards are in development, there are currently existing standards that are recommended for school security applications. ASTM E2395 is the most applicable to modern-day needs. ASTM E2395: Standard Specification for Voluntary Security Performance of Window and Door Assemblies with Glazing Impact was updated in 2018. The specification addresses systems intended to “frustrate opportunistic entry by unskilled and semi-skilled intruders,” according to ASTM. In the test, 2-by-4 missiles are projected at the glazing assembly with an air cannon. Then the system is hit 10 times with a ball-peen hammer. Since bullet-resistant glass is expensive, this glazing assembly was designed to provide schools with another option to help deter the entry of an intruder.

There are three main categories of security products: bullet resistant, forced entry, and blast resistant. Security-rated glass products must undergo certification and testing from an outside test lab. Key standards and test methods include: forced-entry standards (voluntary), bullet-resistance standards (voluntary), blast-resistance standards (voluntary), and school security standards (voluntary). The following sections list standards and test methods for each category. All three of these categories contain items that are voluntary and not yet mandatory.

Forced Entry Standards (Voluntary)

  • ASTM F1233: Standard Test Method for Security Glazing Materials and Systems provides test methods to evaluate the resistance of security glazing materials and systems against ballistic impact, blunt tool impacts, sharp tool impacts, thermal threats, and chemical deterioration, which could happen in the event of a chemical attack.
  • ASTM F1915: Standard Test Methods for Glazing for Detention Facilities provides test methods specifically to evaluate the resistance of detention glazing against larger blunt and sharp impacts and fire.
  • HP White Laboratory is one of the only National Institute of Justice (NIJ) certified laboratories that provides ballistic-resistant body armor. Its independent research and manufacturing practices provide ballistic and ballistic-resistance standards that test blunt and sharp impact plus ballistics.
  • UL 972: Standard for Burglary Resisting Glazing Material covers clear, translucent, or opaque glazing materials intended for indoor and outdoor use, particularly those used for plate glass in show windows and case panels. These materials are resistant to “hit-and-run” or “smash-and-grab” burglar attacks.
  • ASTM E2395: Standard Specification for Voluntary Security Performance of Window and Door Assemblies with Glazing Impact tests systems against different tools on the framing and missile impacts on the glazing.
  • WMFL: Ballistics and Forced-Entry Test Procedure evaluates glazing products for 30-minute and 60-minute retention periods and is often used for applications within detention facilities.
Bullet-Resistance Standards (Voluntary)
  • UL 752: Protection Standards for Bullet-Resistant Glass Products provide a system for measuring and understanding ballistic protection in bullet-resistant glass.
  • NIJ 0108.01: Ballistic-Resistant Protective Materials standard and test measures a material’s resistance to gunfire.
  • WMFL: Ballistics and Forced-Entry Test Procedure evaluates glazing products for 30-minute and 60-minute retention periods and is often used for applications within detention facilities.
Blast-Resistance Standards (Voluntary)
  • ASTM F1642: Standard Test Method for Glazing and Glazing Systems Subject to Air-Blast Loadings provides a structured procedure to establish the hazard rating of glazing, glazing systems, and glazing retrofit systems subjected to an air-blast loading.
  • ASTM F2248: Standard Practice for Specifying an Equivalent 3-Second Duration Design Loading for Blast-Resistant Glazing Fabricated with Laminated Glass provides a design load suitable for sizing blast-resistant glazing that is comprised of laminated glass or insulating glass that is fabricated with laminated glass.
  • ISO 16933: Glass in Building – Explosion-Resistant Security Glazing – Test and Classification for Arena Air-Blast Loading provides a structured procedure to determine the air-blast resistance of glazing. It also sets forth the required apparatus, procedures, specimens, and other requirements for arena air-blast tests of security glazing. Potential simulations include vehicle bombs and standard blasts from satchels.
  • The General Services Administration provides a standard test method for glazing and window systems that are subject to dynamic pressure overloads, such as those that would occur during a blast. These blast-resistant standards ensure glazing, sealants, seats and seals, frames, anchorages, and all other attachments are designed to mitigate the hazards caused by flying glass or debris.
  • The Department of Defense also released blast-resistant standards that can be referenced and followed to help reduce the impact of a blast.
School Security Standards (Voluntary)
  • NFPA 3000: Is the Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program and was recently updated in 2018. This document doesn’t provide specific how-to information but instead is used to educate first responders who will then determine their own standard operating procedures at the local level.
  • Currently in process, ASTM Mitigation of Armed Aggressors in Educational Institutions (F12/E54) held its third meeting in April 2019.
  • Currently in process, the International Code Council (ICC) Ad Hoc Committee on Building Safety and Security is looking at current building and fire-code requirements as they relate to developing the necessary balance between building security and fire safety considerations.
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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in June 2019