Amid safety concerns, school replaces wired glass

June 01, 2008 |

For decades, traditional wired glass was perceived as a safe product because the embedded wire gave the impression that it was strong. In reality, wired glass is weaker than annealed glass. When broken, the prickly wires and shards of glass trap the limbs of those unfortunate enough to penetrate it. Wired glass is the most commonly used fire-rated glazing product in educational facilities. As a result, students comprise the majority of wired glass injury victims.

With this safety concern in mind, officials at the National Center for International Schools, a private, 1,350-student K-12 school in San Francisco, replaced traditional wired-glass vision panels throughout the facility's main corridors with clear glazing from Safti First that meets the highest federal impact safety standard (CPSC Cat. II) and provides protection from radiant heat.

“We want to protect the corridors so that our children can escape the building safely,” said Kate Steel, a code consultant who worked on the retrofit project. “The concern with impact safety is when you have many children trying to exit in a panic situation, when they bump up again the glass, will it withstand that impact? The second concern is fire safety. Will it protect against the spread of fire and will it limit the transmission of radiant heat.”

Steel and Daniel Klingebiel, the school's director of facilities and planning, state that they selected Safti First glazing because it met both needs.

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