Safety and Security Window Films 101

| August 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

An introduction to security films for schools and other buildings

by Peter J. Davey

Library tonemapped


School district superintendents and facility managers have done their homework and have launched aggressive programs to improve school and building safety and security. However, many schools, as well as other federal, municipal and commercial buildings, remain vulnerable to the repercussions of forced entry and high impact. Windows, the most vulnerable point of entry in any building, often remain unprotected and could benefit from a safety and security film installation. It would be wise to review the following Chapter Notes before assuming you have achieved a passing grade on building safety. 



Illustration of safety film protection

The Weakest Point of Entry  –  Although school doors are usually locked, window glass in those doors and ground level windows in particular, remain an extremely weak point of entry. Most schools do not have bullet resistant glazing or laminated glass – which is quite costly. They often have tempered glass only. One bullet can shatter unprotected glass making forced entry immediate. Shrinking school budgets often prevent window replacement from moving forward. A premium safety and security window film installation with a strong attachment system is far less expensive and a highly effective method to improve security.

Applied to existing glazing, security window films dramatically slow down intruders, allowing precious time for law enforcement to arrive and for occupants to get out of harm’s way. Most often, vandals or terrorists move on, frustrated by their inability to gain quick access. Authorized window film dealers can show video examples of bomb blast tests conducted in a variety of conditions and actual attempted forced entry thwarted by security window film. It is stunning to see how long it takes for vandals to force their way through strong security window film.

Safety and Security Window Films are NOT bullet proof –      Although you may hear otherwise, bullets WILL penetrate both window glass and installed security window film. However, this film holds shattered glass in place and although a bullet hole remains, a good quality security film with a strong adhesive and attachment system is very difficult to tear. Factors that determine the length of time it takes to break through a window with security window film installed include force and type of impact, along with the strength of the film, the type of attachment system, the thickness and strength of the glass and the size of the opening required to enter.

Choosing the Right Film – When choosing a safety and security film, pay close attention to its tear- and shatter-resistance. Along with the film itself, its attachment system is critical. An Impact Protection Attachment System bonds the filmed window to the frame, offering the highest level of protection. A quality film will conform to ANSI and CPS glazing standards and will have been subjected to rigorous GSA blast testing or other credible, independent glazing standards and blast testing procedures.

A bit of research about your window film dealer and manufacturer will be beneficial should you need to activate your warranty. Be sure to choose a manufacturer’s authorized dealer. Many film manufacturers will not honor warranties unless their films are installed by an authorized dealer with representatives who have been well trained and knowledgeable about window film specifications. Look for a window film manufacturer that has invested in research and development and has a proven track record in the field. You want both a manufacturer and dealer you can trust — one that stands behind their product and can be relied upon for years to come.

Ultimately, it’s all about improving building safety for all building occupants. Security window films are being recognized in many school districts throughout the country, as being a necessary, cost effective measure of security for their schools. Actually, any building that requires improvements to their building security plan should invest in security window films. The installation will pay for itself in short order by acting as insulation on windows — reducing heat loss, heat gain and temperature imbalances throughout the year. Finally, school superintendents and building facility managers should be prepared to answer the critical question being asked today: “What have you done to improve the safety and security of your building?”

     Peter J. Davey is president of American Window Film, Inc.

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