I apologize for the delay in posting…there were some problems on the server side. Thanks for your patience!
I’ve been thinking a lot about traditional wired glass recently. It may seem like old news, since the International Building Code changes affecting the impact-resistance of glass began a decade ago, but given the dangers of the existing wired glass in schools and other buildings, it’s a subject that needs to be addressed. Today’s post will begin a series of posts relative to glass. Since this is at the outer edges of my area of expertise, I’ll be bringing in a lot of other resources to help us all improve our knowledge of the current codes, understand why impact-resistance is important, and learn what we can do to address the hazards of existing glass.
Lately I’ve been seeing traditional wired glass improperly used EVERYWHERE. I can’t help but wonder if that would change if everyone really understood the danger associated with its use. When I say “traditional wired glass,” I am referring to wired glass which does not provide the impact resistance required by current codes. Many people are under the impression that traditional wired glass is stronger, or provides more security. In fact, it breaks much more easily than other types of glass. And once it breaks, it can cause severe, life-threatening injuries. There is wired glass on the market today which meets the current code requirements for impact-resistance, but the vast majority of wired glass installed in existing buildings is not impact-resistant.
Here’s a short video showing traditional wired glass being tested for impact resistance. You can imagine the damage it would cause if it was broken by a person.
Since the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, there has been a lot of discussion about how to make schools safer and more secure. Glass in the doors and first-floor windows is one of the items in question, because this glass can have an effect on building access. Traditional wired glass has been installed in some of these locations, in a misplaced attempt at providing additional security. In fact, I saw a photo of an exterior door opening at Sandy Hook School (not the door which was used by the gunman), and the pair of doors and adjacent sidelites were all glazed with traditional wired glass.
Watch this video from CBS News that describes the dangers associated with traditional wired glass:
Many of you know that I have 3 young children…very active, rambunctious children. I cringe at the sight of traditional wired glass, especially in locations where children are present or where impact is likely (athletic facilities are particularly scary). On our recent vacation, the condominium had a borrowed lite with wired glass between the bedroom and the exterior walkway. There was NO jumping on the bed during that trip!
I recently did a walk-through of one of my own projects (I wrote the hardware specification) at a university. The brand new doors had traditional wired glass – no impact resistance. I didn’t specify the doors or glass, but I was shocked to see this glass supplied, when our code prohibits its use in hazardous locations – including doors.
At the same university, there is a renovation project underway on buildings designed by the famous architect, Walter Gropius. The university requires the buildings to remain as-is, in keeping with the original design. That includes the “chicken-wire” glass that is installed in every exterior entrance and all of the stairwells.
I saw this storefront with traditional wired glass in all the lites (and ended up with a parking ticket while taking a photo). I can’t help but imagine a wobbly young bike rider or roller blader falling through this glass, which could be life-threatening.
Have you seen any traditional wired glass lately? Do you know how to tell if glass is impact-resistant or not? Stay tuned for my next post (read it here)!