Ensuring that our Australian schools are safe and secure should be a high priority. Although we might not face the same issues as the US in terms of school shootings, protecting our students and keeping school grounds secure from attack is of utmost importance.
There are a number of architectural, design, and construction strategies that can help improve the security and safety of school buildings. Bulletproof or bullet-resistant windows are commonly raised in the discussion of school safety. In this article, we will explore what bullet-resistant windows are and how they can be used to improve the security of schools in Australia. We will look at a number of questions such as:
- What is the difference between the bulletproof and bullet-resistant glass?
- Should bulletproof windows be used in Australian schools?
- What are bullet proof windows made of?
- What are the Australian standards for bullet-resistant windows?
- Where can you purchase bullet-resistant windows in Australia?
Bulletproof vs bullet resistant glass
Before we address the question of using bullet proof glass in Australian schools, it is important to clarify what the terms “bullet proof” and “bullet resistant” actually mean. Although they are used interchangeably in public discourse, they are separate terms that should be distinguished so as not to cause confusion.
The truth is what people might commonly call “bullet proof glass” should more correctly be called “bullet resistant glass”. This is because no glass structure can be completely bulletproof. A bullet or other fast-moving projectile can still pass through a bullet resistant window, but the glass will be better at absorbing the impact than untreated glass.
Should bullet proof windows be used in Australian schools?
Many school safety experts recommend having some form of protected or reinforced glass in school windows and doors. The idea is that the glass will prevent or at least deter unauthorised entry into the school through windows and doors.
The two main benefits of installing bullet resistant glass windows in schools are:
- Deterring projectile and manual attacks. While someone may be able to force entry through repeated attacks on a bullet resistant window, the glass will not be a quick and easy point of entry.
- Reducing the danger for occupants. Normal glass will shatter on impact because of its brittle nature. Shattered glass pieces can become dangerous projectiles that may harm bystanders. Bullet resistant glass does not shatter in this way when a projectile comes in contact with it.
Bullet resistant windows can be installed directly into a school during a construction or renovation phase. There is also the possibility of applying a ballistic glazing to existing windows.
Schools should consult the local authorities and relevant community members before taking any measures to improve the security of their school grounds. Considering multiple perspectives is important for ensuring a strong school community.
What are bullet resistant windows made of?
As mentioned above, untreated glass is not good at absorbing shock and will shatter immediately if attacked by a projectile or manual attack. Security grade glass comes in a range of thicknesses, strengths and specifications, depending on the level of protection required.
- “Impact resistant glass” will help prevent thrown objects from penetrating through the window.
- “Burglary resistant glass” will resist forming an opening when attacked manually such as with an axe or hammer.
- “Bullet resistant glass” will stop or deter projectiles including bullets from penetrating the window.
Bullet resistant glass can be made from a number of different materials, one of the most common being a combination of glass and polycarbonate plastics. Polycarbonate is lighter than glass which can help reduce the overall weight of the window. It is also transparent and allows light to transmit through it in a very similar way to glass. This means visibility is not compromised with this manufacturing method.
Bullet resistant glass can be manufactured in different ways, laminated polycarbonate being one of the most common. This involves placing a layer of polycarbonate between two sheets of glass with a thickness appropriate for the level of protection required. The layers are then joined together using a laminate.
When a bullet or other projectile is fired at the laminated polycarbonate window, it will break through the first layer of glass. However, the polycarbonate layer in the middle will absorb the energy from the projectile, stopping it from penetrating through the entire window pane.
Some products labelled “bullet resistant glass” are actually made from a solid sheet of acrylic or laminate polycarbonate, which do not contain glass at all. Polycarbonate is generally stronger and has a higher impact resistance than acrylic.
Bullet resistant windows are commonly made with a steel frame. Being highly robust and durable, steel is the ideal choice for applications where security is paramount.
What are the Australian standards for ballistic glass windows?
In Australia, ballistic grade systems, such as bullet resistant windows and doors, must be tested to the Australian standards outlined in the Building Code of Australia (AS/NZS 2343). Not only must the window or door itself be tested, but all of the associated hardware, such as the window frame, must be tested and certified to ensure they can meet a certain level of protection against manual and projectile attacks.
Bullet proof window supplier in Australia
Australian Fire Control is a leading supplier of ballistic window and door systems which are suitable for use in a wide range of industries, including schools, embassies, banks, airports and other high security buildings. All of their bullet resistant windows are manufactured to Australian standards with cutting edge technology.
Australian Fire Control ballistic windows achieve high-security standards while having a low weight and impressive optics. These manual and bullet attack steel-framed windows are made to meet modern aesthetic standards without compromising on performance. This means they can be installed in modern school buildings without disrupting vision, reducing the entry of natural light, or compromising the aesthetic integrity of the school’s architecture.