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School Security: Windows and Doors as First Responders: Industry Insights

The issue:

Active shooter events are becoming more frequent.

Time is critical.

The average length of active shooter events is 8 minutes; the shortest is 90 seconds. Response times for first responders average 3 minutes, so some active shooter events are over even before first responders arrive.

No building codes or mandates for school security exist. In comparison, every building is subject to fire codes and regulations because of (relatively smaller numbers of) historic deaths in building fires. Since the adoption and enforcement of the fire codes, the number of deaths from fires has dramatically decreased.

The strategy:

Make schools safer with security, ballistic, and attack resistant windows and doors. In active shooter events, windows and doors can be the first line of defense. Security glazing resistant to forced entry can be used to slow down an attacker, allowing more time for schools to enact emergency plans and for first responders to arrive.

High risk areas of school buildings include entrance areas, exterior window and door access points, and classroom window and door access points.

Third-party tested products are available. ASTM F3561 Standard Test Method for Forced-Entry-Resistance of Systems after Simulated Active Shooter Attack serves as the industry-accepted standard for minimum criteria for security windows and doors for schools.

Window and door solutions:

• Serve as first lines of defense while allowing school personnel and first responders to see impending danger.

• Provide privacy and allow diffuse light in while selectively blocking attacker’s line-of-sight when translucent or reflective glass is utilized.

• Can be designed for forced entry resistance and bullet-resistance.

• Are available at various protection levels as retrofit options.

• Create a secure environment for teachers and students without imposing visible barriers.

• Provide passive protection, even during power outages.