Volume 41, Issue 11 - November 2006


Capitol Hill Hears Discussion on Wired Glass During Recent Symposium
Wired glass was the topic under discussion on Capitol Hill on September 14, during a symposium on the use of wired glass in schools. The symposium was organized by Greg Abel, founder of the not-for-profit organization Advocates for Safe Glass, with support from Oregon Senator Vicki Walker, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Peter DeFazio, and held in conjunction with Americas Glass Association and the Fire and Safety Glazing Council. 

Senator Walker represents the first state in the United States to adopt International Code Council safety regulations limiting the use of wired glass in hazardous locations in schools, gymnasiums, etc. The regulations are intended to prevent injuries to children caused by breaking wired glass.

“This nation is in a new school building era … we will be able to ensure that schools of the future will not be using wired glass,” said Walker.

She noted that her next concern is addressing wired glass already in place in pre-existing school buildings. A bill has been proposed for the appropriation of funds for retrofitting glass in schools. Walker offered another possible solution for replacing wired glass.

“What I want is a pool of money that the [wired glass] manufacturers have to pay into,” Walker said. “That’s my goal, to at least have some kind of fund set up … so we can start retrofitting our schools.”

She also advocated establishing independent third-party testing of wired glass and changing the National Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) code used in hospitals, which currently doesn’t discriminate between injuries from glass and wired glass. The change would help to track injuries specifically from wired glass.

Ellen Schmidt, MS, OTR, national outreach coordinator of the Child Safety Network, spoke in support of tracking injuries from wired glass. She noted that information on the occurrence of injuries from wired glass isn’t widely available except as anecdotes.

“This is a significant issue that affects many children … but we’re really not sure how many,” Schmidt said. 

She recommended that more schools work to form a reporting system for school-place injuries, although she added that many districts aren’t aware of this problem. 

“There’s a lot of people who just don’t know about it [wired glass injuries] and what they can do about it,” she said. 

The Ontario School Boards’ Insurance Exchange (OSBIE), however, has set up a tracking system for school injuries, according to Teresa Drijber, claims manager for the not-for-profit organization. She explained that all schools in Ontario must file a report about injuries so that OSBIE can offer risk management solutions. 

Drijber said that since 1987 OSBIE has tracked approximately 81 glass breakage incidents, and about 40 claims payments. She noted that some of those claims do end up going to trial.

Attorney Kenneth Lumb of Corboy and Demetrio has represented victims of wired glass injuries, with three such cases pending.

“The people who are putting [wired glass] in now that the codes are changed, it’s almost like a strict liability case,” said Lumb.
He added that the standard of care to which building professionals are held in court isn’t just to do what another reasonable professional would in the same circumstances, but also to have the knowledge of what a reasonable professional should do. He said that with more laws being passed limiting the use of wired glass, building professionals could be held to those standards.

“The codes are not the be-all end-all in a civil case,” Lumb said. 

Dale Santee, AIA, CSI, a principal in the Architectural Studio, offered an architect’s perspective on why designers specify wired glass in their projects. 

“Why do we put the glass in the buildings?” he asked. “For security purposes … monitoring.”

He said that many of his clients request this form of “passive security” in hallways and stairwells, and that wired glass for some time was the only available option for these areas. He added that despite its drawbacks—he noted aesthetics and impact resistance, for instance—the low cost of wired glass compared to alternatives has kept it as a viable material for designers. 

Leonard Brunette, president of Vetrotech Saint-Gobain, offered the assemblage some information on the alternatives to wired glass available. He explained that ceramic glass withstands both high temperatures and rapid cooling, but by itself is not a safety glazing material; window film must be added or it should be laminated. He also said that intumescent products are safety-rated and resist heat transfer.

“We’re working now to create an educational program we can get to the code officials and the industry about the new products available,” said Brunette. 

He added, “The [glass] industry as a whole has heard these issues, and they’re very concerned.”

Mirror Standard Task Group Formed
Lee Harrison, president of Walker Glass Ltd., recently announced the development of a task group to review and update ASTM International ASTM C 1503-01 - Standard Specification for Silvered Flat Glass Mirror. 

According to ASTM consensus standard procedures, the 2001 standard must be reviewed for re-approval or updated within five years of publication. Harrison led the original development of the standard and will serve as the update task group chairperson. Task group participation is open to all interested parties and does not require ASTM membership, although only ASTM members can vote. 

ICC Evaluation Service Criteria for Skylights to Be Updated
The North American Fenestration Standard (NASF) Harmonization Task Group has requested that the AAMA Skylight Council and Skylight Performance Task Group review ICC-ES AC-16, Acceptance Criteria for Plastic Glazed Skylights. They are being asked to make recommended changes to the AC-16 documents to align it with the AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S. 2.A440-05. The task group consists of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) representatives, through a meeting with the International Code Council (ICC) Evaluation Services, ICC-ES acceptance criteria are developed by the ICC-ES technical staff for products that are alternates to what is specified in the code. The purpose of AC-16 is to establish requirements that plastic-glazed skylights must meet to be recognized under the 2003 International Building Code (IBC), the 2003 International Residential Code (IRC) and other model codes. AC-16 is applicable to fixed or operable curb mount, deck mount or tubular skylights, with plastic glazing and frames and sash members of wood, steel, plastic (including fiberglass) and homogeneous (not thermally broken) aluminum.

Access Door Addendum Proposed for ASHRAE BACnet Standard
An addendum that would extend BACnet (building automation and control networks) to support access control systems has been proposed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Proposed Addendum F to ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135-2004, BACnet, A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks, establishes a standard BACnet object, which represents a door operated as part of an access control system. It presents information and alarms about the door such as its status (open or closed, door open too long, door forced open), and provides means for controlling the door (lock, unlock, etc.), according to Bill Swan, chair of ASHRAE’s BACnet committee. 

This object is the first access control work item to come out of the BACnet committee’s life-safety and security working group. The group is working to develop full support for access control in BACnet, with more extensions to follow. According to information provided by ASHRAE, the group is working closely with the Security Industry Association to develop common data models and methods for access control systems.

ICC Code Hearings Result in Many Changes and Revisions
The Code Development Hearings of the International Code Council (ICC) 2006/2007 code change cycle took place September 20-October 1, 2006, in Orlando. More than 100 of the proposals related to the glazing and fenestration industries. Many representatives of the glass and fenestration industries took part in the hearings, speaking on behalf or against various code change proposals. Highlights of some of the most significant proposals are included below. The December 2006 issue of USGlass will also provide a more detailed look at the gamut of newly enacted codes.

A code change proposal to the International Building Code (IBC) about glazing in shower enclosures was not approved. Proponents said the code change would have made glazing in shower door applications safer. Donn Harter of the Americas Glass Association (AGA) was the code change proponent. 

Code consultant Bill Koffel spoke in opposition to the proposal on behalf of the Bath Enclosure Manufacturers Association (BEMA) and the Glazing Industry Code Committee (GICC). According to Chris Birch, executive director of BEMA, his organization sent a representative who presented a “summary of talking points, problems with the proposal, or technical deficiencies.” He also said the GICC position was more global, as “the details provided belong in a standard that can be referenced in the building code.”

The AGA, however, still has plans to continue forward with its proposal. “We will re-propose our shower amendment in the next code change cycle. It was not surprising that such a massive addition would be turned down the first time,” said Harter. “Opposition created concern for the code change committee to admonish the proponent (AGA) to gain industry consensus before our return. Although there was general support from the ICC members, it was felt that certain word-smithing should be employed. It is our intent to resolve industry differences without sacrificing the life safety issues addressed in our amendment.”

Proposal S105 was approved. It allows glazing in compliance with ANSI Z97.1 classes A and B to be used in hazardous locations, such as stairways and ramps and other locations not federally required to meet CPSC 16 CFR 1201. ANSI Z97.1 class A and B corresponds to CPSC 16 CFR’s Part 1201 Category I and II for safety glazing.

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