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: