SAFTI FIRST fire rated glass and framing products at Kromrey Middle School in Middleton, WI

For many K-12 schools, the safety and security of students, faculty and staff remains a top priority in school design for both new construction and renovations/additions.  It was true in this November 2022 BD&C article, and it remains true for 2024.  The emphasis has been on perimeter hardening; controlled access; increased surveillance; concealed, shelter-in-place spaces, and other security measures built into the school’s design to prevent or significantly delay a violent attacker.  This allows first responders to gain some time to arrive at the scene and for the school to enact their emergency protocols.  

But of course, nobody wants to send their child to a school that looks and feels like a correctional facility.  While ensuring student safety is paramount, we cannot forget that schools are places for learning and social interaction. With today’s school designers tasked with creating secure facilities where children can thrive, manufacturers such as ourselves must respond in kind by providing innovative building products that they can use to create these safe and welcoming learning environments.

The pursuit of safety in schools has long been a passion of mine.  For over 40 years and counting, SAFTI (which stands for Safety and Fire Technology Incorporated) FIRST, has been dedicated to protecting students from unsafe wired glass, the dangers of radiant heat and more recently, threats such as active shootings, forced entry, and more.

Our investment in a state-of-the-art, automated laminated line allows us to produce security glass that can withstand high impacts from forced entry, ballistic attack, or both.  Using security glass for exterior glazed windows and doors achieves the goal of perimeter hardening without being too harsh or heavy-handed as glass still allows for natural daylight and visual connection to the outdoors.  If there are security or privacy concerns, these windows can be modified with reflective film or switchable glass. This allows light to still pass through and selectively block the attacker from seeing into the building.

Security glazing from our laminating line can also be used for interior glazed windows and doors, such as secure entrance vestibules, classroom windows and doors and other gathering spaces. Glass allows natural surveillance to these areas, which improve everyday safety and supervision.  In the event of an active shooter attack, the security glazing in the vestibule can prevent or significantly delay the intrusion.  In addition, the security glazing in the windows and doors in the classroom and gathering spaces where students and staff can shelter-in-place can be enhanced with switchable glass, integral blinds or other privacy options to block vision to these areas.  

We are also testing our door and window products to meet the new active shooter standard, ASTM F3561.  We will have both fire rated and non-fire rated options available.  Unlike existing security glazing standards, ASTM F3561 is an enhanced forced entry assembly test that requires the glass and door or frame to be tested together.  As a vertically integrated, single-source manufacturer of fire rated glass, framings, doors, walls and floors, this is something that we know very well.  We expect to have these ASTM F3561 compliant doors and windows very soon.  This comes at a good time as code proposals are currently being submitted for the 2027 IBC to include ASTM F3561 as the minimum security standard for schools.

On the outreach front, we’ve relaunched our website. This is designed and organized as a resource for school superintendents, facility managers, parents and others who use and interact with these facilities on a daily basis long after it is designed and built – making them crucial stakeholders.  It has videos, articles, industry updates and other information on how to enhance the safety and security of their schools with today’s advanced glass products.

We also have a full calendar of in-person events where you can meet our team and view some our products.  This includes the CASH Annual Conference of School Facilities, speaking engagements at Facades Plus Conferences, participating at the ProConnect AEC Giants and Higher Ed Facilities Forum events, exhibiting at the AIA National Conference and Design-Build Expo, and much more.  Our goal is to be where you are so that we can create new connections and strengthen existing ones through face-to-face interactions.  I invite you to follow us on LinkedInFacebookX and Instagram for more announcements!