PGC Meeting Underway in Tampa

Florida's very active hurricane season in 2004 was revisited today by members of the Protective Glazing Counsel (PGC) at its spring meeting, taking place at the Embassy Suites Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla.

Starting the seminar series was Mike Luttkus, dealer education trainer for PGT Industries, presenting pictures and findings of a damage survey his company did in the aftermath of hurricanes Charley, Ivan, Frances and Jeanne. Luttkus explained to his audience that the latter three hurricanes, which did the most damage to the state, were all measured to be the weakest category hurricanes possible, all Category 1. Charley was the only Category 4 hurricane to hit Florida last year and it was smaller in girth than the other three.

"Some people compare Charley to a large tornado and I feel that's fairly accurate," Luttkus said.

Following Luttkus was Julie Schimmelpenningh of Solutia, who spoke on the topic of protective glazing in new construction. She took her audience through questions someone investing in protective glazing should consider (threat levels, occurrence rate, amount of desired protection, cost and code requirements), as well as the product flow through which glass must go before it becomes an acceptable window--or "How Glass Becomes Spaghetti," as she called it.

"The U.S. hurricane market is from the tip of Texas to the cape of Massachusetts. Not everyone has protection," she said.

After a short break, Nick Routh of Bekaert Specialty Films gave a quick review of how applied window film can help protect against storm damage, showing clips of different performance tests on security film--both daylight applied and wet glazed -- attached to both annealed and tempered glass panes.

"Nothing happens until the glass breaks. Granted, it doesn't meet standards, but I'd rather have that than tempered glass all over the floor," he said. "Shutters and storm materials are great, but a lot of people can't put them up -- or won't put them up, or put them up too late, or, as has been mentioned before, are in the middle of Iowa."

Eric Cote and Dr. Bob Bailey of the Protecting People First Foundation (PPFF) was the last presentation before lunch, discussing the preliminary results of its study "Finding the Breaking Point," part of Project Safe Windows, which looked at the aftermath of the 2004 hurricane season. As the study found, any protection is better than none at all, but the optimum results can only be achieved if protective materials are attached and deployed properly.

Shutters, Bailey and Cote explained, work very well if they are in place correctly, but installing them can be problematic and even dangerous to individuals who try to put them up during high winds, on ladders. Older members of the community, as well, may have difficulty installing them. Mechanical, automatic shutters can also be problematic if a building loses power and there is no manual override by which to roll up the shutters, creating sauna-like conditions inside buildings and perpetuating mold growth.

Screens--both rigid and flexible--worked, again with the caveat that they had to be employed correctly, as did laminated glass. Security window film, they said, worked when and where applied, but was difficult to survey because examples of it in use were limited, especially examples that were put to the test and received impact.

The PGC's spring meeting continues through tomorrow.

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