Building a Stronger Window

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Whether it's an act of violence or a dangerous storm, families in Connecticut have found a new way to protect themselves; through windows.The Troubleshooters discovered how they can keep your schools and your homes safe.

    The worst case scenario – you want to be ready for it and hope it never happens. But on a number of fronts, people from Connecticut have witnessed horrific situations over the past few years.

    In a remote spot, engineers from a company called Architectural Testing examine glass under the most extreme conditions: a bomb blast.

    Amy and Mike Garofalo can appreciate why.

    The Middletown couple was in Boston on April 15 watching friends run in the marathon, when two bombs exploded right in front of them at a restaurant near the finish line.

    “I just remember the glass showering everywhere,” said Amy Garofalo.

    Amy and Mike had cuts to their heads and hands, many from the millions of pieces of glass that went airborne.

    “Many people that we’ve talked to afterwards can just, felt the glass, raining down on their heads, and on their bodies,” Amy said.

    The Garofalos appreciate the difference blast-resistant glass could have made.

    “If all that shrapnel wasn’t there, if all that glass shrapnel wasn’t there, it would have to have minimized the injuries,” said Mike.

    In this test of blast-resistant glass, engineers set off two 55-pound TNT bombs in a remote area of Texas. They used sensors and high-speed cameras to see how the windows perform under extreme stress. Looking at a test conducted by consultant Darrell Barker, you can see the blast resistant glass holds together, while a conventional window shatters into thousands of dangerous shards.

    Blast-resistant glass can be found in Connecticut at Camp Niantic, where the Army National Guard trains. For security reasons, the Guard can't reveal where the laminated glass is installed at its Regional Training Institute, which opened two years ago.

    “Force protection is the main priority," said Col. John Whitford of the Conn. Army National Guard. "That was one of the things as we look into the design and construction of the building, and taking care of our soldiers.”

    The concept of this super-strong glass is simple. People from the industry say what makes it safer than glass in a conventional window is a layer of transparent laminate about the thickness of a credit card sealed between two panes.

    West Hartford retailer Finestra Rossa Windows let us demonstrate how this laminated glass can take a lot of punishment. This impact-resistant glass is being installed in Enfield schools in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook. The new heavy duty windows are designed to slow down an intruder for a few critical minutes until help arrives.

    “If you had a hammer or other type of blunt force, it would take an intruder an extended period of time to break into the building," said Deputy Chief Gary Collins of the Enfield police.

    While impact-resistant glass will delay an attempt to break into a building, it’s important to note that it will not stop a bullet.

    This type of technology isn’t only designed to protect against violence. After two years of destructive storms, residents on the shoreline are using it to protect their homes.

    “Today it looks great, absolutely. Come here when there’s 15 foot waves, a little different.”

    Jim Secondi said his Milford home was destroyed by Hurricane Irene two years ago, after which he installed wind-resistant windows designed to withstand gusts of up to 140 miles per hour. New state building codes require most shoreline homes to have windows that can handle at least 110 miles per hour.

    Secondi said "not a drop of water came in" during Sandy. "So this new construction and all the building codes worked.”

    Like the Conn. Army National Guard, and the Enfield Police Department, Secondi hopes the windows will never have to prove their worth…but said there's at least a sense of security in having them.

    As with many added safety features, laminated glass windows will cost at a minimum about 30 percent more than conventional ones, according to industry experts.