It is sad to think that we live in a time where we need to design entrance solutions for keeping our families and property safe, but we must continually innovate to overcome the threats that present themselves in daily life. Bullet resistant doors or ballistic doors and complete ballistic-rated entrance systems are an important part of this innovation.
(We previously discussed in Part 1 the reason we don’t use the term “bulletproof door” when referring to these products.)
What makes a product bullet resistant? There are several ratings that could describe the level of bullet resistance in a product. The most common are:
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) 0108.01
State Department SD-STD-02.01
HP White Laboratories HPW-TP 0500.02
European Standard DIN EN 1063
British Standards Institution BS 5051
Councils of Standards Australia/New Zealand AS/NZ 2343
A certified test lab performs these tests in a controlled environment. The range of weapons varies from handguns to rifles, and the ratings are quite different depending on the standard to which you are testing.
For example, you may hear someone refer to “Level 3”, which has a different meaning depending on which testing standard you are talking about. Level 3, UL 752, calls for a .44 magnum handgun. National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Level 3 calls for the use of a 7.62mm (.308 Winchester) rifle. So, as you can see, there is a difference.
I have worked on several projects developing bullet resistant doors using a fiberglass pultrusion process. When deciding on a bullet resistant opening solution I strongly recommend exploring the pultruded ballistic door options that are available. Believe it or not, steel is not always the answer to solving these complex entrance problems. When used properly, fiberglass has excellent ballistic properties without the concern of deterioration due to rust or corrosion.
In some cases, such as in government installations, there is a blast requirement for most if not all exterior entrance systems. There are a couple of different approaches to achieve a blast rating for a blast-rated door specification.
Arena Testing- This is obviously the most fun. As you can imagine by the name, this testing occurs outside in a controlled area, by setting off explosives to achieve the desired load and duration. The entrance system is instrumented to record the forces felt during the explosion. The advantage of using an arena test is that you’re not limited to certain dimensions on the product you’re testing. The downside with this method is that it is more difficult to obtain a specific pressure and duration due to the variation in explosive behavior.
Shock Tube- The shock tube is an instrument used to replicate and direct blast waves at a sensor or a model to simulate actual explosions and their effects, usually on a smaller scale. The advantage of using the shock tube is that you can repeat the test more accurately than arena testing. The disadvantage is that the size of the shock tube restricts the size of the specimen.
How do I know what level of protection I needed for an entrance?
To be successful when ordering these types of systems, I strongly recommend that you take the time to understand the science behind the products that will protect you and your customers. Understanding the requirements of your state or local jurisdictions and having all the information ensures that you and your customer have on-time deliveries and products that meet the requirements for the project.
For example, the load results for HVHZ approved systems are calculated in pounds per square foot. With ballistic systems, you need to understand the caliber of bullet that your entrance must withstand in an attack. This information will dictate the level of protection required.
For blast-rated protection, you will need to know the blast load the product (in this case, a blast-rated door) needs to withstand, calculated pounds per square inch (psi), as well as the impulse calculated in pounds per square inch and milliseconds (psi-ms). For intrusion resistance, you need to know the amount of time that you want to hold a perpetrator at bay and if you want laminated glass or polycarbonate glazing.
There is a growing need to create entrances in our schools, businesses, and government facilities that are blast, bullet, intrusion, and storm resistant. It is sad to think that we live in a time where we need to design entrance solutions for keeping our families and property safe, but we must continually innovate to overcome the threats that present themselves in daily life.
Within this growing segment of the industry, we find a new set of labels, terminology, and testing standards. At times these can get quite confusing and misleading. However, they do not need to be if you have a good understanding of a few key terms.
Proof vs. Resistant
Have you ever heard someone say that an object was Something Proof and in reality, it should have been Something Resistant? According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of proof is: “Able to withstand something damaging; resistant.” Ok, that makes sense… until you look up the definition of resistant in the same dictionary. That definition goes something like this: “Opposed to something; wanting to prevent something from happening.” So, proof or resistant, tomato or tomato? They should mean the same thing, not exactly. The “proof” is in the pudding.
Yes, bulletproof sounds more impressive than bullet resistant. Using the term bulletproof is an absolute statement and not an entirely factual statement. At the end of the day, if someone or something wants in, the laws of physics will work against you. If something is big enough, powerful enough, hard enough, wet enough, fast enough– you get the picture– it’s coming in. For this reason, I would rather see the term “resistant” used in all descriptions having anything to do with bullet, blast, intrusion or storm rated entrance systems.
What is Intrusion Resistance?
If you are looking for solutions that would slow down a perpetrator from gaining access to your building, one of the options is to add intrusion resistant glazing to your entrance. The definition of intrusion is; “the act or an instance of intruding; an unwelcome visit.” Intrusion resistant products are also commonly called attack resistant or forced entry resistant.
Intrusion Resistance Testing
There are several test standards used depending on the approval. The most common are ASTM and UL (Underwriters Laboratories), and the U.S. State Department forced entry test. Also, some state correction facilities utilize their own set of standards. Some companies are trying to “update” the current standards that would better represent current conditions.
Depending on the data that you look at, the national average for the police to respond to a 911 call is between 6 and 10 minutes. The goal of an intrusion resistant entrance system is to delay intruders from gaining access until the cavalry arrives. These systems may or may not be bullet resistant but remember the object here is to delay the intruder from gaining access to the facility not to stop a bullet.
Intrusion Resistant Glass and Glazing
There are two innovative variations of intrusion resistant glazing that can be utilized for this requirement.
One option is a patent pending product that slows down intruders up to twelve minutes before gaining access. The laminated glass comes in 5/16″ and 1″ insulated. This glass is a bit more expensive but provides all the benefits of a glass vision lite that an end user may prefer.
The second option is a clear polycarbonate that has a scratch resistant coating. I strongly suggest packing a lunch if you are trying to break through this material. You can literally go after it with a sledgehammer and not break it! This polycarbonate is an inexpensive solution for intrusion resistance.
A Complete Forced-Entry Resistant System
It is important to note that the glazing material is only one aspect of an intrusion resistant system. The doors and vision lite kits used to hold this glazing material are just as important. They must all work as a system to counteract the threat. When selecting intrusion resistant products, it is important that you choose intrusion-resistant doors, frames, glazing, and vision lite kits. Manufacturers typically reinforce vision lite kits with more fasteners and material to allow the system to withstand a threat. I know what you’re thinking: More fasteners? No one is going to buy that! Well, just because there are more fasteners doesn’t mean you have to see them! Some companies have developed ingenious ways of disguising their intrusion resistant glazing kits so to the average person it does not look reinforced.
Read the rest of this blog series to find out why it’s important to direct attention to testing standards when explaining the levels of protection or comparing products!
“The New Product Award program honors the outstanding product development achievements of manufacturers and suppliers whose products or services are considered to be particularly noteworthy in their ability to enhance the learning environment. An independent panel of judges from the industry selected 15 Platinum and 26 Gold winners in the second year of this contest. Twenty-nine additional products were awarded an Honorable Mention.”
We are excited to announce that Special-Lite’s AF-100BR3 won the Platinum New Product award in the category of Doors for educational door and frame safety. We are so passionate about school safety and school security, and we continue to develop new products to meet these needs.
You can read more about the award and other winning products here.
About our Ballistic Door & Frame
The AF-100BR3 Door is the first ballistic door manufactured using fiberglass pultrusion technology. This process produces a smooth-faced, corrosion and bullet resistant fiberglass door. This door is incredibly strong and is also fully sealed for easy cleaning. Special-Lite developed this bullet resistant door to support the need for increased security at educational, government and military facilities.
You can read the details on our ballistic products here.