Maintaining Security

This is a complex issue that involves forced entry protection, egress, and emergency response.

Groups addressing this issue include:

  • FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has updated its publication "Primer to Design Safe School Projects in Case of Terrorist Attacks and School Shootings".
  • NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) developed NFPA 3000 "Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program" to help identify and rank building hazards, and provide resources for first responders during an incident.
  • ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) and ICC (International Code Council) are actively working on intruder and active shooter events in new test standards and the building code.

Risk Reduction 

While there are not yet national building code requirements specific to intruder events, there are some common steps that can be taken to potentially reduce risk:

  • Protection Against Forced Entry: the superior structural performance of aluminum framed security windows and entranceways with laminated security glass offer improved forced entry resistance.
  • Egress: the use of operable aluminum egress windows with security glazing on the first floor can offer emergency egress for students and staff while also protecting against intruder entry when closed.
  • Visibility for Staff and First Responders: the use of structural security windows and doors maintain views and transparency that are important for first responders and incident commanders to assess the situation. Glazed vestibules allow increased visibility and entry control for staff during everyday operations.

These attributes must be provided and work together. As the FEMA recommendations state, "Windows must be protected against forced entry without sacrificing visibility."

Rigorous Testing 

Similar to hurricane impact resistance, standardized test methods characterize and qualify different levels of performance for safety glazing, forced-entry, enhanced forced-entry, ballistic, and even blast resistant products. The performance is largely determined by the glazing type - whether it is using a thin laminate or an applied film or a thick multilayer glass / plastic laminate. For all levels, framing is critical to the overall system working together to resist increasing force and glazing pull-out. The superior strength and rigidity of aluminum extrusions offers higher performance and security.

To ensure the highest level of structural performance for windows and doors, architects should specify architectural grade "AW" rated windows and doors together with their desired level of security glazing performance.

For framing systems tested to resist forced entry attacks, architects should look for products tested to ASTM F476, F588, and F842 for windows, sliding doors, and hinged doors, respectively.

Project: North Reading Middle/High School

North Reading, MA

Type: New/renovation

Architect: Dore & Whittier Architects

Contractor: Gilbane Building Company

Notable: LEED Gold Certification

2016 Merit Aware, K-12, ENR New England