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Windows and Glass: The Weakest Link in Securing Your Facility!

by Richard Hahn

What do the facility managers at NASDAQ, The Jimmy Carter Presidential Center, Wells Fargo Bank and Omni Hotels have in common?

All are using window protection film to protect their windows against terrorism, burglaries, vandalism and even storms. In addition, many have received professional consultations and assessments on glass and window protection.

The Danger of Unprotected Glass

Every security manager knows that glass is the weakest link in securing a facility. An explosion or violent weather can catapult razor sharp glass up to 150 miles per hour. During the recent World Trade Center terrorist attack, numerous deaths and injuries resulted from the shards of glass, which flew up to 1/2 of a mile away from the collapsed structure. 

In Oklahoma City, more than 50% of the injuries sustained were the result of flying glass from the blast. Property damage to the interior of buildings was also costly, as shattered and fallen glass left dozens of buildings vulnerable to looters and water damage.

There are also safety issues. Because industrial factories, chemical refineries and food processing plants store and transport materials, workers are in danger of flying glass from accidental explosions. 

An ABC news story on the terrorist attack explained that where glass retention film was used at the Pentagon, the glass remained intact. Although almost every piece of glass was broken when the jet hit the building, all of the broken shards were stuck to the film preventing deadly pieces of glass from flying.

Jordan Frankel, vice president of ShatterGARD, an expert on glass fragmentation retention, advises facility managers to safeguard building occupants and the public by protecting the glass windows in addition to their current security measures. 

Without that protection, flying glass can destroy both property and lives. The company’s flagship product, BlastGARD, a polyester glass retention film, minimizes the risk of bodily injury and property damage by holding the dangerous razor sharp shards together within the window frame, preventing the flying glass from becoming deadly weapons. 

The Company

Seven years ago when the company was founded, Frankel realized that there would be a tremendous need and a multitude of applications for this incredibly strong, yet simple polyester film. Originally developed as a defense against bomb blasts and explosions, BlastGARD was marketed under the company name, ShatterGARD, until Frankel and his partners developed a number of different variations. By changing the thickness of the polyester, the type of adhesive used, and in some cases adding color such as tinting, new products were added to the line.

With those modifications, ShatterGARD targeted specific industries and new applications with products including BurglarGARD, StormGARD, VehicleGARD and ScratchGARD. BurglarGARD was designed for sudden impacts such as smash and grab crimes while StormGARD is intended for a strong wind loads, such as hurricanes that may create excessive wind load pressures for extended periods of time. 

“BlastGard, being our strongest product, can be used for burglary, storms and vandalism as well as explosions and acts of terrorism,” says Frankel. 

Threat Assessment

A member of (IACSP) The International Association For Counter-Terrorism & Security Professionals and (SIA) The Security Industry Association, ShatterGARD also offers consulting services for facility managers on blast protection preparedness. Since the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the company has been inundated with appeals from both the private and public sectors requesting immediate installations and threat assessments. 

“When evaluating the risks, we look at the height of the building, the direction of the glass, the type and age of the window frame, how it is secured to the building,” explained Frankel. “Flying glass is a danger not only in internal areas, but also zones such as windows facing a parking lot or a walkway where the public may be at risk.” 

Types of Glass

The type of glass also dictates what type of protection is needed. While safety glass or ballistic glass are exceptionally high quality and can also be used against acts of terrorism and explosions, they are very expensive and not practical for most facilities. 

Instead, Frankel recommends that if tempered glass is already installed, BurglarGARD might be used to save money. However, if a facility is concerned with terrorism and budget is not a concern, the company will use BlastGARD in every instance, regardless of the quality of the glass.

NASDAQ originally considered having ballistic glass installed in its Times Square facility but quickly realized it was cost prohibitive. Not only is ballistic glass expensive, but because all existing window frames had to be removed, NASDAQ would have had to shut down all floors. ShatterGARD provided an alternative – an estimate that was one third of the price of ballistic glass with no disruption and no toxic fumes. 


Installation of BlastGARD offers additional benefits as well. The film is optically clear and distortion free, and filters up to 98% of harmful UV radiation, protecting building interiors and sensitive equipment. Tinted versions of the film can reduce glare and heat infiltration by up to 70%. The product is extremely scratch resistant and will not yellow or distort over time. With its special non-toxic adhesives that improve product durability and impact resistance, Certified technicians can quickly and easily install BlastGARD. 

Applied side-to-side and top to bottom to the interior portion of a windowpane, installers sometimes use a special anchoring system that was developed by ShatterGARD and commonly known as the flex-seal attachment. A unique silicone is applied around the perimeter of the window frame adhering the film to the window frame providing additional strength and integrity to the overall structure. After installation, there is a short curing process of approximately 30 days for the film to completely adhere to the glass and reach an optimal clarity and strength.

If the window is struck with an object such as a baseball bat, a brick or an explosion, the film serves as an invisible coat of armor, similar to rubber; BlastGARD absorbs a large portion of the kinetic shock waves. The energy then travels across the film to the window frame, which further disperses the energy. In the unlikely event the glass breaks, the film will help hold the broken shards stuck to the film. In many cases, a ShatterGARD treated window won’t break. 

Becoming a ShatterGARD installer means formal instruction with hours of factory training involved for certification. While installation may look deceptively simple, if BlastGARD or any of the other ShatterGARD products are applied incorrectly, they won’t perform to specification, causing potential safety hazards. 

“This is not a window tinting product,” says Frankel. “You can tear tinting products with your hands. This product is so thick and strong that you couldn’t rip it with two pairs of pliers. Cutting it and custom fitting it to the window takes not only custom training and expertise but specialized tools and machinery as well.” 


In spite of its strength, the film is virtually undetectable. When Stan Williams, chief of maintenance and security for Omni Hotels, called Frankel after the installation he was unhappy and upset. “Your installers missed several windows,” he said.

Since the film is virtually undetectable to the eye, Williams was unaware that it was already installed. He called back Frankel with an apology. “That’s the best compliment we could have given your company,” he said. 

Standards and Warranty

BlastGARD™ meets and exceeds all current GSA standards for window fragmentation retention film. The company is so confident in the product and installation that they offer the only lifetime warranty in the industry. Should any BlastGARD treated windowpane be broken, ShatterGARD will reapply the film to the new windows free of material or labor charges.

ShatterGARD, which started out small, has grown to have a worldwide presence, protecting clients such as the FBI, The United States Military, NASDAQ, America Online, Equity Office Property Management and Wells Fargo Bank, to name a few. With that type of experience and credentials, Frankel added, “We’re ready to meet the mounting concerns of facility managers and a world shocked by the recent tragedies.”