Volume 10, Issue 5 - September/October 2006

Safe & Secure
A Security Film Primer and the Important Components
by Brigid O’Leary

Security film is an important topic. It protects—or is meant to protect—building occupants from unexpected threats such as bombs or projectiles. But in order for a company or installer to be able to provide adequate security protection (by way of window film), there must be an understanding of the important aspects that factor into the equation of security window film. We bring you the ABCs of security film.

Attachment systems refer to the manner in which security film is held in place, particularly those systems that include hardware, such as a mechanical system that is screwed into the window casing.

Blast Loads
Blast loads describe how much force (measured in pounds-per-square-inch) a window system can handle. This is important for determining against what size bomb the window system can protect and if it is right for the job.

Consultants are those in other industries who can help identify special needs for a facility, determine weaknesses or even help determine the best system(s) for the project. 

Daylight applications are film-to-glass applications that do not use additional sealants or mechanisms to attach the film to the window system. When used in a security-film setting, it will likely hold the window together, but not keep it in the frame. They are the standard installation for solar or decorative film.

Emergency Egress
Exiting a building in an emergency. Emergency egress (and ingress, the ability to gain access to a building) become important when security window film is put to the test. If a building is subjected to a bomb or other terrorist act, or if a building with security window film applied to it catches fire, the film could potentially hinder ability of victims to escape or first-responders to gain entry into the building to evacuate victims.

The filling of an opening with glazing. The design and placement of windows in a building, which can affect the proper installation of security window film.

General Services Administration (GSA)
The GSA is the federal government’s leading acquisition agency, designed to help other agencies meeting the needs for products and services.

Hazards can be any sort of potential threat on a building. The mitigation of the determined hazards is often the impetus that prompts building owners to seek out security options.

Impulse is the motion, over time, produced by pressure. Impulse is particularly important when evaluating bomb blast readiness as it refers to the duration of the pressure impact on the facility receiving the shockwave. 

Short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED is a voluntary consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Security film jobs may be called upon to help secure buildings that have achieved the LEED criteria.

Mechanical Attachment
The use of hardware such as screws and other parts to attach security window film to the framing system.

Protection Levels and Performance Conditions
The GSA created a chart of glazing protection levels that assigns a number value to the response glazing units have to bomb testing. The numbers range from one, which is safe and means the glass does not break, to five, or low protection level with complete, catastrophic window system failure. 

Applying film, particularly a security film system, to an existing building.

Structural Sealant
An adhesive used to seal window film to the glass and frame to which it is being applied.

Threat Assessment
Threat assessments are evaluations of all the conditions and factors that could put a building and its occupants at risk for being a target of terrorism. These factors include such aspects as stand-off distances, neighboring buildings and the nature of the work performed in the building. 

Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC)
The UFC 4-010-01 is the list the requirements for protecting the occupants of government buildings. Window film and laminated glazing requirements are included in the list, issued by the Department of Defense.

Both literally and figuratively, the visibility of a building is an important aspect to consider when conducting threat assessment. The taller the building, or the more sensitive or high-profile the work being done inside the facility can unwanted attention from persons seeking to cause harm to occupants of the building or make a political statement.

Wet Glaze
Wet glaze applications are another way of attaching security window film. It involves the application of window film on top of which a bead of structural sealant or caulk is applied to seal the film to the glass and window frame.

Add Ons In Addis Ababa
A Security Glazing Profile
There have only been two wars fought on U.S. soil: the American Revolution and the Civil War. Until five years ago, there had only been one large-scale attack (Pearl Harbor) on this country, as well. Americans, for the most part, have been lucky not to live with the perils of war as part of daily life. There are several countries whose citizens get that unlucky distinction. Religious and political strife have hung over the heads of the people in the Middle East for decades, so it should come as no surprise that security film has an ample market in both Arab countries and in Israel. 

Headquartered in Jerusalem, Sunshield is an Israeli window film dealer that just completed two high profile jobs in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The company courts a strong domestic market, but is starting to expand into jobs in other countries, too, as owner Uriel Nathan has built his company into a successful window film business over the last nine years.

Founded in 1997 shortly after Nathan finished his required two years of national duty service in the in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), Sunshield now has 11 employees, with representatives in Jordan, Ethiopia and Egypt.

As Nathan explained, the residential market in Israel and its neighbors is just starting to blossom as one for the window film industry, but the commercial market remains strong. 

Earlier this year, the crew at Sunshield security filmed the building of a high-security profile international organization in Ethiopia that, for additional security reasons could not be named.

“With a huge compound and over 3000 employees flying glass was a serious concern for this organization,” Nathan told Window Film magazine. 

Nathan points out that, in some areas of Africa, there isn’t the widespread knowledge about security window film, that there is in many of the Western countries, but that’s not to say that it is a completely foreign concept. In fact, Sunshield installers had to remove more than 10,000 square meters of film before they could apply the security film required for the job.

As with any security film application, the project included risk assessment.

“We recommended using 7 mil security films; we have received specific data from the customer and calculated that this specific film could significantly reduce glass related injuries and still be cost effective. Furthermore, to add value to this installation we also recommended using 7 mil silver 20 reflective film to reduce heat gain and add privacy to these buildings,” said Nathan. 

Sunshield installed a total of 21,000 square meters of security film, some of it silver and some of it clear.

Hard at Work
“The project took three months to accomplish [and] we ran a tight operation. I brought four of our best installers and [hired] more than 25 local Ethiopian employees,” Nathan explained.

They worked seven days a week, with the local labor mostly assisting in the removal of the old film, and the Sunshield techs installing the new film. Nathan is proud of his workers, noting that “the guys were highly motivated and very professional, the organizations executives were shocked from the work pace and the precision of the installation.”

One Thing Leads to Another
The speed with which Sunshield completed the job impressed the clients, who chose them as the film installation company over several different companies, including other international firms. It is one of the factors working in the company’s favor when bidding jobs, and has helped the company win other contracts, including a project with the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa.

“We have protected the Hilton lobby which has huge panes of glass (single [lites] of glass measuring 3.4 meters by 2 meters each) as there are many diplomatic activities in the hotel. The management has wisely chosen to upgrade its security measures, this also promoted the hotel’s marketing to diplomatic customers,” Nathan explained.

Immediate Need
The staff at Sunshield knows more than a thing or two about how important it is to protect building occupants. It’s something many of them have known all their lives. 

“Unfortunately in this part of the world, [terrorism] is a living threat and can strike anywhere, anytime. We have witnessed numerous installations that have saved many lives, at banks, stores and also homes. Four years ago, there was a double suicide bomber attack in the city center of Jerusalem; the terrorists exploded near a store we had protected with 4 mil film just a few months before. As a result of this installation the large windows of the storefront were kept in place—shattered but not scattered. I’m proud to know that people’s lives were save that night due to our installation, because nearby windows crashed into the stores injuring people and destroying property,” Nathan said.

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