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Nov 12 2013

Traditional Wired Glass Will Not Stop a Bullet

Category: Glass,NewsLori @ 12:48 pm Comments (4)

Most days, I feel like the information I send out into the cosmos helps to make the world a little bit safer.  But every so often I want to cry from frustration, because misinformation can travel just as quickly and send unsuspecting readers down the wrong path.

In the past year I have written a lot about the dangers of traditional wired glass (all of those posts are here).  I will be the first to admit that I’m not a glass expert, but I have read, researched, and spoken to many experienced people in the glass industry, and the results are clear:

1)  Traditional wired glass is extremely hazardous, causing more than 2,000 injuries in schools each year.  Many of these injuries are horrific, and in some cases large settlements are being awarded to the injured, because schools should have been aware of the potential hazard and addressed it.

2)  There is no longer an exemption in the International Building Code for traditional wired glass in fire doors or any other hazardous locations.  This dangerous material does not belong in schools, or any other locations subject to human impact.

3)  Despite the attempts of some very passionate individuals to educate facility managers, architects, and suppliers about the hazards of traditional wired glass, existing hazardous glass remains in place, and continues to be installed (if you don’t believe me, check out this blog post by Lyle Hill).

What is disheartening to me is a news report like the video below, where the “security expert” advocates the use of “wire mesh in the window or a laminate film on the window” to prevent someone from shooting a hole in the glass and reaching in to unlock the door.  Whether or not he was referring to traditional wired glass, Fox News used the term “wired glass” in the headline, which may lead some viewers to believe that traditional wired glass provides a level of security to prevent intruder access.  The “security expert” also mentions that no children have been killed in a school fire in 50 years, which could be interpreted to mean that fire safety requirements are less important than security.  I disagree.

The glass industry experts quoted by USGlass News Network had a few things to say on this topic as well.

Both she [Diana San Diego] and Thomas S. Zaremba, a consultant to the glass industry with more than 30 years of experience with wired glass, strongly disagreed with the recent assertion by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman that wired glass might have lessened the human toll in a number of deadly school shootings. Grossman, a retired Army officer and former West Point professor now writing books, alleges that shoring up schools windows and doors with wired glass would have saved lives by denying the shooters entry.

Not true at all, insist those in the glass industry.

“I don’t know what kind of expert he’s supposed to be,” Zaremba says, “but, if he thinks wired glass is going to keep somebody with a gun out of a building, he doesn’t know anything about glass.”

Both San Diego and Zaremba worry that misinformed statements such as Grossman’s about wired glass security capabilities would improperly influence public opinions and lead concerned parents, students and administrators into a false sense of security and potentially toward more catastrophic injuries from wired glass.

Here’s the report from Fox News with the erroneous headline and misleading quotes:

Tackling Terrorism in Schools

Got an opinion on this?  Please share it by leaving a comment.

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4 Responses to “Traditional Wired Glass Will Not Stop a Bullet”

  1. Safecrackin Sammy says:

    “Educators and Law Enforcement”

    Because Grossman had been to several scenes after the fact and written a book he is an “Expert?”

    I have been to NASA and did a book report so now I am an astronaut??

    People seem to naturally associate that LEO is an “expert” on matters such as this because they normally show up after the fact. Little does the public realize that these people while good intended, have little or no training in these areas. [Trust me I have trained some]

    I agree with Grossman’s idea that these areas of security need to be hardened but obviously wired glass is not going to improve the situation.

    Glass is always a weak point in a secured environment but filmed or laminated is the only way to go.

  2. Jack Ostergaard says:

    But we all know we can trust FOX to find a unbiased non-sensational “expert” with an opinion on what government officials should do to protect citizens from the crazies.

  3. Greg Abel says:


    First and foremost I wanted to say thank you for creating a format which allows us the opportunity to voice our concerns and responses.

    I wish to comment on the interview conducted by Fox News on the subject of “Expert Says Wired Glass Doors And Windows Could Save Lives During School Shootings” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. As founder of Advocates For Safe Glass and President of Safe Glass Consulting I find Mr. Grossman’s position on the subject totally inaccurate and unfounded. I feel that I am qualified to respond to Mr. Grossman’s opinion based on the fact that I am recognized by the courts as an expert on the subject of the breakage characteristics of wired glass and was the International Code Council proponent of the building code change which eliminated the exemption on wired glass from the Federal Safety Glazing Standards. As to a comment, I could not have said it better than the one from Safecrackin Sammy and the comment from Thomas S. Zaremba, “ I don’t know what kind of expert he’s supposed to be but, if he thinks wired glass is going to keep somebody with a gun out of a building, he doesn’t know anything about glass” Out of fairness to Mr. Zaremba, we have been on opposite ends of this issue since 2001 and this is the first time that I am in total agreement with him and I thought we would never be on the same page on anything, thank you Mr. Zaremba.

    I know that I have always been an advocate for surface applied film on wired glass but only as a way to mitigate the hazard of existing wired glass in areas subject to human impact. I would never suggest that wired glass with a surface applied film in an area opening to the outside atmosphere would be of any benefit for safety or security. There are many products on the market today that are either inner layer filmed or laminated that are used in hurricane prone areas that would do the job quite nicely, keeping in mind that any application must be code compliant.

    Mr. Grossman goes on to state that “Not a single child has been killed by school fire in over 50 years.” Mr. Grossman, do the math I had an expert in the area of epidemiology from the CDC conduct a study of the National Injury Data Base and he calculated that conservatively 2,500 school aged children K – 12 are severely injured each year by wired glass. This comes to a total over the same span that you wish to take credit for, no deaths due to fire, of 125,000 severely injured children.

    Mr. Grossman, one last thing, you state that “for about 500 years we’ve had the technology to put wired mesh in the window or put a laminate film on the windows,” I have a problem once again with your facts, it was only in 1898 that wired glass was invented by the Pilkington Company.

    This would not be the first time that Mr. Grossman’s beliefs and position on a subject went unchallenged. The very audience that Mr. Grossman speaks before in his presentations to Police and Military audiences have had serious questions as to the accuracy of his claims, please see comment from the Executive Director of The Police Policy Studies Council “ He is very popular with police and military audiences. He is a very likeable guy. But, are there problems with his reasoning? And, are some of his stated opinions actually detrimental to the law enforcement community?” With that said Lori, thank you for the opportunity to be heard.

    Greg Abel – Safe Glass Consulting

  4. Eric says:

    I think it would be a good idea for one of the glass experts to send a message to Mr. Grossman explaining the facts. I would certainly want to know if I was preaching bad information that I believed to be true. Especially when it comes to the safety of our children.
    I’m sure Mr. Grossman believes (for whatever reason) that his views are real. He certainly can’t believe that wired glass would stop a bullet (could he?). I think his reasoning is that the wired glass, although full of holes, could remain intact and may prevent the intruder from reaching through and opening a locked door (maybe?).
    I did a search for Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and found that messages can be sent to him at I don’t think any harm could come from it if the letter is well written with good intent. It doesn’t have to attack his integrity. Just explain the truth.
    Just my 2¢

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