Hurricane Tested Glass - A Hazard for Residents?

Not too long ago a residence in a beautiful neighborhood on Kiawah Island, South Carolina caught on fire. The origin of the fire was an electrical malfunction. Despite the fire department's best efforts the house burnt to the ground and damaged several homes nearby. No one was in the house at the time, so the fire only caused material damage. Reports blamed  - guess what? - the hurricane rated windows and doors of the house. According to the fire department, these units with multiple locking systems and large missile impact rated glass did not give way to the firemen's axes.  

While one has to ask why the firemen did not breach the six inch stud walls or the roof, the question of what to do with hurricane windows in an emergency is an important one. Insurance and local building codes require the use of impact rated windows. Henselstone's tilt and turn windows only have one handle to open to the inside allowing 100% emergency egress. Other manufacturers have several locks that have to be undone to operate the window. Building codes also require operable windows or exterior doors in every bedroom. However, if the house is empty or, a nightmare scenario, children, handicapped, or elderly residents cannot operate the windows, it is almost impossible for someone from the outside to enter the building through hurricane windows. Window manufacturers in cooperation with local authorities have to address this issue. In response to the fire, Henselstone is offering fire departments across the eastern United States to train firemen in breaching windows and doors equipped with impact glass and multiple locking mechanisms. The key to breaking through these heavily laminated units strong enough to withstand small arms fire is ... (let's not tell the bad people, will we!) Come to one of our presentations.