Wired Glass Opponent Takes His Case Nationally

What began as a near tragedy has sent a Eugene man on a mission to make safety changes nationwide. But Greg Abel doesn't have to go far to show how much work needs to be done.

Start with the new Downtown Eugene library, a $30 million building that has received rave reviews. "Oh, it's a beautiful building," says Abel. "The first time I was in it was just the other day." But Abel also has a serious problem with the library, specifically if there is a real emergency and people are in a rush to get out a stairwell door. "There are going to be people pushing and shoving to get through that doorway and the first person that is pushed into this wired glass is going to be dealing with another problem," he says.Wired glass is used as a fire barrier. But when broken it can catch a person in jagged pieces of glass. It happened to Abel's son, and that is when he set out to make sure it did not happen again, in any location.

"It really is a huge important issue," says State Senator Vicki Walker of Eugene. She pushed through code changes to make Oregon a leader in requirements for wired glass. "We are now no longer going to allow it in any kind of building where there is a forseeable risk of human impact," says Walker.

Now Walker and Abel are taking their campaign nationwide, testifying in Tennessee before the International Code Council. Abel says the British company that supplies wired glass to the U.S. cannot even sell the same product in Britain because it does not meet that country's impact standards. They are confident their proposals will result in higher impact standards for wired glass that will be put in place for all new construction beginning next year.

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