Volume 7, Issue 3, May-June 2003

PGC UPdate
    Scott Haddock

Emergency Access and Egress 

Itís been about 20 years since the federal government begun retrofitting existing windows in its facilities to mitigate the effects of glass hazards from explosive attacks. Since the early 1980s the State Department has employed the use of thick safety films applied to the interior of existing glass in facilities around the world. The idea at the time was that if the existing opening could not be reglazed to meet a specific level of threat, at least the installation of safety film could reduce the hazards. 

In many situations around Europe, retrofit films have proved their worth in situations where medium- to low-level bomb devices have done their worst. As the technology advanced and the perceived risks have increased, the types of retrofits, as well as the number of buildings being retrofitted, have expanded. Not only have the General Services Administration (GSA) and other federal agencies been making a concretive effort to evaluate and retrofit facilities owned and leased by the GSA, but the private sector is beginning to understand the advantages for protecting occupants from potential attacks as well.

The Firefighter Question
As the number of buildings having their windows retrofitted for protective measures increases, the probability of firefighters encountering these retrofitted windows during emergency operations has also increased. The new critical question is whether or not firefighters will be able to affect forcible entry through these retrofitted windows with standard tools and procedures for emergency ingress and/or egress rapidly.

Sponsored by the GSA (with guidance and support from Hinman Consulting Engineers of San Francisco), a series of demonstrations (tests) on a number of protective glazing retrofits for purposes of training fire fightersí tools and techniques for penetrating windows that have been retrofitted with blast hazard mitigation systems are being planned in California. Among the many types of systems to be tested are fragment retention window films (daylight-applied and mechanically attached), as well as several different configurations with laminated glass systems. 

The federal government certainly has an interest with how these products and systems can be breached if necessary due to an emergency. The tests will be taking place at the San Jose, Calif., Fire Department Training Center on May 28, 2003. Willie Hirano from GSA region 9 and Hollice Stone with Hinman Consulting Engineers will then be presenting the initial results of these demonstrations at the Protective Glazing Councilís San Francisco meeting June 2, 2003, at the Stanford Court Hotel, Nob Hill. 

For more information regarding the upcoming PGC events and other information, log on to www.protectiveglazing.org

Scott Haddock is president of the Protective Glazing Council (PGC) and GlassLock of San Jose, Calif.


© Copyright 2003 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.