Window manufacturer Viracon will receive an award today from the Protecting People First Foundation, following the tragic events of September 11. The foundation was set up after the Oklahoma bombing of 2000. It was established to raise awareness of flying glass hazards from terrorist attacks or natural disasters.
Viracon were the manufacturers of the blast resistant windows used in the Pentagon. These windows had only recently been installed in the region affected by the airplane impact and have been credited with saving potentially thousands of lives.
The windows were being installed as part of a renovation operation which had been partially completed by September 11. At the time of the impact approximately 385 of the blast resistant windows were installed in the Pentagon near the crash site.
The glass panel sections consisted of several glass panels bonded together with plastic interlayers similar to automotive windscreens. They differed in that they had a thickness of almost 40mm and weighed over 200kg each. The window frames were manufactured by Masonry Arts Inc to fit in with the existing architecture. Masonry Arts Inc were also responsible for the installation work.
The blast resistant windows were thought to be have been beneficial for a number of reasons. These included:
- The blast resistant windows are claimed to have supported the floors directly above the impact for an additional 30 minutes, providing vital time for thousands of employees to escape
- More lives were saved by virtue of the fact that the glass did not shatter into lethal shards.
- Workers lives were also preserved by the fact that the windows shielded them from the heat and fire from the blast.
- In fact some of the windows near the impact zone did not even break.
The high levels of performance provided by the windows made their $10,000 per piece construction and installation cost a small price to pay. The entire renovation project will see a total of 1755 units installed in the Pentagon as part of several billion dollar renovation.
125 people lost their lives in the Pentagon, in addition to the 64 on board the plane. Had it not been for the blast resistant windows, the death toll could have been much higher, as their were approximately 2600 persons in the affected section of the building at the time of the crash.
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