Reprint from Nov. Security Technology and Design Magazine.

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August 28, 2023
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Reprint from Nov. Security Technology and Design Magazine.

Reprint from Nov. Security Technology and Design Magazine.

Before the Glass Breaks

If a brick or a bat breaks a window, the glassbreak detector will send an alarm to the central station or monitoring center, which in turn will call the police.In a high-rise building, though, not every window is alarmed. And in the event of a terrorist attack, the glassbreak detector could do nothing about the already shattered window that is catapulting fragments of razor sharp glass over 150 miles per hour.

The Danger of Flying Glass

During the recent World Trade Center terrorist attack, numerous deaths and injuries resulted from the shards of glass, which flew up to a half mile from the collapsed structure.

In the Oklahoma City bombing, more than 50 percent of injuries sustained resulted from flying glass. Property damage to the interior of buildings was also costly. Shattered and fallen glass left dozens unprotected.

With industrial factories, chemical refineries and food processing plants storing and transporting materials, workers are in danger of flying glass from accidental explosions.

Jordan Frankel, vice president of ShatterGARD, Inc. has an answer for anyone in charge of security: Protect the glass. The company’s flagship product, BlastGARD, a polyester glass retention film, works by holding the shards together within the window frame.

The Company

Frankel and his partners realized right from the beginning that there would be a tremendous need and a multitude of applications for this incredibly strong yet simple polyester film. They were right. ShatterGARD, which started small, has become a worldwide presence with clients such as the FBI, The United States Naval Surface Warfare Center, NASDAQ and Wells Fargo Bank.

BlastGARD was marketed under the company name, ShatterGARD, until a number of variations of the product were developed. ShatterGARD changed the thickness of the polyester, the type of adhesive used and in some cases added tinting.

With those modifications and new products including BurglarGARD, StormGARD and VehicleGARD, ShatterGARD targeted specific industries and applications. For instance, BurglarGARD is designed for sudden impacts such as smash-and-grab crimes, while StormGARD is intended to withstand strong wind loads.

“BlastGard is our strongest product to date and is used to protect against explosions and acts of terrorism,” said Frankel. “It can also be used for burglary-, storm- and blast-related incidents.”

Threat Assessment

A member ofThe International Association For Counter-Terrorism & Security Professionals and The Security Industry Association, ShatterGARD also provides expert consulting on blast protection preparedness. In the wake of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the company has received numerous appeals from both the private and public sector requesting immediate installations and threat assessments.

“We look at the height of the building, the direction of the glass, the type and age of the window frame and how it is secured to the building,” Frankel said. “Not only do we look at the internal area, but also external zones such as a parking lot or the street where the public may be in danger.”

Types of Glass

The type of glass also dictates what type of protection is needed. Safety glass or ballistic glass are exceptionally high quality and can also be used against acts of terrorism and explosions. “The problem is that they are very expensive and not practical for most facilities,” Frankel said. “If they already have tempered glass, which is a step above plate glass, BurglarGARD might be used to save money. If budget is not a concern and they are concerned with terrorism, we will use BlastGARD in every instance, regardless of the quality of the glass,” added Frankel.

NASDAQ, which had considered having ballistic glass installed, quickly realized how impractical that solution was. Because existing window frames had to be removed, they would have had to shut down all floors. That was cost prohibitive because of the disruption of the installation and the price of the glass. ShatterGARD provided an estimate that was one third of that price, with no disruption and no toxic fumes.

Installation

BlastGARD is applied side to side and top to bottom to the interior portion of a windowpane. Installers sometimes use a special anchoring system, which ShatterGARD developed, commonly known as a flex-seal attachment bead. Applied around the perimeter of the window frame, the film adheres to the frame, providing additional strength and integrity.

After installation, there is short curing process of approximately 30 days for the film to completely adhere to the glass and reach optimal clarity and strength.

If the window is struck with an object or shaken in an explosion, the film absorbs a large portion of the 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 shards. In many cases, a ShatterGARD treated window won’t break at all.

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

Undetectable

In spite of its strength, the film is virtually undetectable. Stan Williams, chief of maintenance and security for Omni Hotels, called Frankel after the installation, saying, “Your installers missed several windows. I’m very unhappy.” Because the film is virtually invisible, Williams was unaware that it was already installed. He later called Frankel with an apology. “That’s the best compliment we could have given your company,” he said.