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Tightening of safety regulations for public building fenestration

It’s time to install a window restrictor E

arlier this year, the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust was taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a result of an incident that took place in 2005 when 77year old Iris Carey, a patient at Swindon’s Victoria Hospital fell 5.5 metres from a window in her ward. She suffered a broken ankle and a compressed fracture of a vertebra.The Trust was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £12,502 costs. The HSE inspector said that the incident had been avoidable as the Trust had identified a risk with the windows and although window restrictors were in place, they did not meet the required standard.

Requirements to manage risks Following an alarming number of accidents involving people falling out of windows – at least 7 fatal accidents and approximately 30 major injury incidents attributed to falls from windows identified during the two-year period 2002/03 to 2004/05 - Health and Safety officials have reminded hospitals and organisations providing care services for vulnerable people that they must take appropriate action to manage the risks of falls from windows. Failing to do so may result in a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 or the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Health and Safety officials have insisted that windows must have a 100mm restricted opening and in order to be appropriately insured, building owners are required to ensure that all windows cannot be fully opened accidentally. Fenster Commercial of Deerhurst, near Tewkesbury has come up therefore with a timely solution to the problem – the Window Safety Restrictor. Fenster is an established door and window maintenance company that not only manufactures and installs windows, doors and curtain walling, but also offers bespoke solutions to site problem-solving for public buildings, and offers advice on window design services in relation to health and safety and risk assessment data. The opening of windows in

most cases is for the most innocuous of reasons, e.g. for ventilation or to smoke a cigarette, but in many cases, window safety is compromised by concerns relating to certain groups of vulnerable people. Such groups will usually comprise children and those incapacitated through drugs or drink or mental health problems, all of whose actions can be unpredictable and therefore a threat to personal safety. Fenster’s Window Safety Restrictor, introduced by acknowledged experts in the field of window safety is an ideal solution to making open windows safe. Unlike many previous types of restrictors, Fenster’s product will fit all window types and types of materials and will restrict window opening to 100mm as per H&S guidance. Impressive features and benefits The unit features a high quality polyester powder coat finish and comes in black or white in the standard finishes or optionally, in standard RAL colours. Different lengths of cable can be specified and fitting instructions are included. The Window Safety Restrictor boasts a number of benefits. Importantly, it enables windows to be opened safely for ventilation purposes by occupants of the room and an environment is created where two hands have to be used to open the window. Furthermore, the safe opening operation does not trap fingers

in window jambs. The restrictor has a dual locking facility by dead lock, or push-to-release. One key fits all and for the personal safety of an organisation’s clients the key can remain in one responsible person’s control. However, if left unlocked, the window can be opened further – an option for the premises’ owner. The robust design of the restrictor ensures that the cable cannot be cut without specialist tools – an important consideration in the situations where the product is likely to be of greatest value. Aesthetically, the restrictor boasts a slim, attractive design that not only fits all situations, but whose clean, modern lines blend well with existing windows. Robust specifications The Window Safety Restrictor’s specifications are equally impressive: • Die cast zinc alloy lock and slave bodies • 6x 6 close wound steel cable • White or black heat shrunk durable plastic cable sleeving • All standard RAL finishes available as options • Any cable length available as an option (standard= 220mm) • Meets BS 8213 to restrict all windows in public areas • Meets BS 5588 regarding egress from private dwellings • Exceeds BS 6375 part 2 strength test by more than double the required standard. Fenster’s client profile includes local authorities, hospitals, health authorities, care homes, educational establishments, building contractors and window manufacturers. Hotels, offices and factories also feature. Indeed, as well as commercial/public building applications, the installation of a window safety restrictor in many other situations makes complete sense in today’s litigious climate with regard to accidents. Fenster’s Window Safety Restrictor is priced at £9.85 + VAT + delivery, with quantity discounts available on request. CONTACT INFORMATION

Tel: 01684 274 666 E:

Munters has helped Golden Gates Housing to meet its obligations outlined in the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

Tackling social housing energy performance W

ith Social Housing providers facing a raft of energy performance legislation, including the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates later this year – Munters has introduced a unique Energy Performance Survey. This new survey combines industry leading non destructive techniques, which, for the first time delivers Social Housing providers with an objective and structured approach to the energy performance improvement.

Measuring performance The energy survey is designed to help improve energy efficiency by measuring current energy performance, targeting improvement action areas to increase energy performance and identifying further investigation requirements which combined with housing stock database can build a stock and individual property improvement plan. Commenting Munters Energy Services Manager - Nik Day said: “The approach that Munters has adopted enables us to work with Social

ABOVE: The energy survey is designed to help improve energy efficiency by measuring current energy performance, targeting improvement action areas to increase energy performance.

Housing providers to determine a relevant stock auditing model. This provides statistically relevant results, enables a full analysis of stock type and the implementation of a defined and measured energy efficiency programme. Nik continued: “As the survey Munters offers contains the EPC it means that by undertaking the survey within empty properties, the social housing provider can achieve substantial cost benefits, by not paying for the EPC certificate twice.” Three techniques The energy survey combines three non-destructive techniques - an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), an air tightness test and a thermography survey – the latter uses infrared technology to identify differences in temperature and highlight heat/energy loss and where water/moisture may be entering the property. Munters’ own employed technicians are qualified and registered DEAs, accredited British Institute Non Destructive Testing (BIND) technicians and Thermographic certified – an unique industry combination. Golden Gates Housing (ALMO) Business Service Development Manager, Ian Robinson commented: “As a leading social housing landlord (awarded 3 star status with ‘excellent prospects for improvement’ by the

Audit Commission) we are constantly looking to identify and invest in ways in which we can improve our services. Our partnership with Munters has enabled us to prepare for meeting our obligations outlined in the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive that comes into force October 2008. Partnership working with Munters has now extended to supporting our organisations renewable energy pilot schemes. What we required was a comprehensive survey that evaluated the existing energy performance and carbon footprint of the property. To support our ‘whole house’ approach on energy performance, thermography and air tightness testing was also initiated. Comprehensive service Ian continues: “By having this comprehensive ‘whole house’ service provided from one organisation delivers consistency, minimises bureaucracy and cost. Munters professional approach is now being employed by two other social housing providers on renewable energy projects in partnership with Golden Gates Housing. Plans are well advanced for renewable energy projects for 2008/2009. Munters will be part of the team in delivering the programme that will link with GGH’s 30 year ‘asset management strategy’. With the ever increasing energy efficiency demands on social landlords – HECA, Best Value, Decent Homes, Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006 - this revolutionary service ensures measureable energy efficiency delivery and supports compliance. CONTACT INFORMATION

Tel: 01480 432 243 E:

Rob Simpson of StranDNA shares with Windows Active his innovative security idea for greater homeowner peace of mind

Eureka moment that led to Chain Reaction W

hen tough economic conditions prevail, the easiest way to boost revenues is to revisit former happy customers. But therein lies a drawback. You need a healthy product portfolio to wet homeowners’ appetites.The success of the ongoing ‘Alternative Revenue Streams for Installers’ series in Windows Active has proved there is an increasingly high demand for niche and innovative products. Security is always a hot topic that attracts interest from homeowners.With the Police and other organisations providing mappings of ‘burglary hotspots’, it is no wonder that security figures prominently in homeowners’ minds. Furthermore, recessionary periods are always characterised by a surge in attempted burglaries and doorstep scams. Eureka moment Rob Simpson of StranDNA is wholly familiar with this worrying trend. During a period of rehabilitation following a serious motoring accident he gave his inquisitive mind and his personal drive full rein in exploring creative ways of generating income. It wasn’t long before he had his ‘eureka’ moment and came up with an ingenious idea. The idea was to create a unique security device that would utilise all the characteristics of a standard front door chain, but enhanced with key innovations. Rob explained his thinking to Windows Active: “Due to the increased technical specifications incorporated into house and vehicle alarms, making it far more complex to bypass any given system, thieves are resorting to far more extreme methods to gain access to houses. These crimes are commonly referred to as aggravated burglaries, home invasions or forced entries.” Rob has designed and now brought to market an innovative solution to the problem. His Chain Reaction device is modelled on

the standard door chain, but uniquely incorporates an ear-splitting138-decibel screech alarm along with DNA trace technology. He explains:“We believe Chain Reaction is predominantly a crime prevention product, specifically designed to ease the fear associated with entrance door crimes. If activated, Chain Reaction assists the Police in the apprehension and detention of the individuals who perpetrate such offences by using the latest DNA trace technology.The DNA trace will also provide the Crown Prosecution Service with irrefutable evidence, aiding the prosecution of criminal acts in a court of law.” Chain Reaction explained The additional fixing of a supplied notice, on or near the entrance, warning that the property is protected by StranDNA will hopefully also deter potential burglars. However, if the warning is not heeded and an attack occurs, not only will the 138-decibel screech alarm be activated but at the same time there will be an emission of forensic trace liquid. Following an arrest, if the individual is found to be stained with the trace liquid, a forensic science service can analyse the liquid and determine the DNA component allocated.When StranDNA is provided with

this unique code, the company’s database will identify the exact location of the installation where the device was professionally installed and registered, clearly placing the individual stained as perpetrator of a specific crime. A definitive illegal action is required for the security device to be activated - for example an individual aggressively attempting forced entry through the front or rear door of a residence.The trace liquid is a clear, nontoxic, UV-based substance, only visible under ultraviolet light. It has a unique DNA code that will remain on clothes or skin for months, depending on exfoliation and the number of times clothing is washed. At the point of installation, a registered, approved installer or sub-licensee will take the DNA trace code supplied and will register that code at a specific residential address.There are in excess of one billion codes and no two canisters are the same. Installers and sub-licensees sought StranDNA are currently establishing an infrastructure of mobile installation professionals nationwide and would like to hear from independent security installers, locksmiths or replacement door fitters interested in undertaking an approved installation course in various nationwide locations. Once registered, approved installers will carry out installations on StranDNA’s behalf and receive a generous pay scale with a bonus scheme available on generated sales. The company would also be keen to hear from larger organisations interested in the sub-licensing of this device to sell under their own direction or name. Rob is currently working on other security access innovations that will develop further the principles shown by the Chain Reaction product.Although currently tightly under wraps, these further exciting additions to the product range will be announced and launched later this year. CONTACT INFORMATION

Tel: 08442 490150

A magnetic wall covering is set to reduce maintenance cycles in public, commercial and domestic buildings across the UK

‘Magnetic’ glass wall covering offers maintenance solution


revolutionary new “magnetic” wall covering is set to reduce maintenance cycles in public, commercial and domestic buildings across the UK. Magnet is the latest innovation from Vitrulan, a German company which manufactures fabric wall coverings that are made entirely from glass. Vitrulan’s glass déco fabrics, which are hung in a similar way to traditional wallpaper, have only recently become available in the UK despite being used widely across Europe for more than 20 years. Unlike wallpaper, the glass wall coverings provide a huge number of benefits in terms of hygiene, cleaning, durability, wall reinforcement and fire safety, as well as being chemical-free and environmentally friendly.

Straight onto the wall Magnet shares all of these benefits, but with the added benefit that any commercial magnet can be stuck straight onto the wall. To achieve this,Vitrulan has combined a layer of its textured woven-glass fabric with a compressed glass lining fleece and infused a unique metallic coating between the two. The development means that entire wall interiors, from floor to ceiling, could be used for displays, presentations or creative workstations – without the need for drawing pins,

ABOVE: Unlike wallpaper, the glass wall coverings provide a huge number of benefits in terms of hygiene, cleaning, durability, wall reinforcement and fire safety, as well as being chemicalfree and environmentally friendly.

sticky tape, adhesive putty or expensive notice boards. Anyone, from architects to teachers, can now replace or rearrange their large format drawings or classroom displays as often as they like in the knowledge that the walls will remain clean and unmarked – thus dramatically reducing the need for ongoing maintenance and redecoration. Great flexibility Chris Sheppard, UK sales manager for Vitrulan, said: “Magnet would benefit almost any building you could imagine – be it commercial, public or residential. It not only allows the flexibility of potentially bigger display areas, it also means that displays can be changed as often as you like without the walls becoming damaged or in need of redecoration.This will have a major knock-on effect in terms of a building’s whole-life cost. “Magnet even presents a challenge to the humble kitchen fridge, which has for years been the ‘notice board’ of choice for families across the UK. In fact, traditional notice boards could become a thing of the past in almost every walk of life.” Like Vitrulan’s other glass déco fabrics, Magnet comes in rolls similar to traditional wallpaper. It is installed by first applying adhesive to the wall,

rather than requiring a pasting table, and it can be coated in an almost unlimited number of paint colours and finishes. Magnet can be hung alongside Vitrulan’s standard glass déco fabric on the same wall elevation if only a limited magnetic area is required for display purposes. Vitrulan’s glass déco fabrics are ideal in areas which require a high level of cleanliness or experience a high level of human traffic, such as schools, hospitals and hotels. But almost any commercial office would benefit from the enormous maintenance cost savings it provides. The glass fabric not only hides cracks in the wall substrate but actually reinforces the wall due to the stability of the glass, which does not shrink or expand when exposed to varying temperature and humidity. It is extremely impact resistant for the same reason. It is fire-proof, entirely safe for human health (complete with Oeko-Tex certification), and can be washed and scrubbed for years on end without leading to any surface damage whatsoever. Completely sealed Also, combined with the fact that, once coated, the seams between adjacent lengths of the glass fabric are completely sealed, they are probably one of the most hygienic wall coverings available in the world.This is partly borne out by the fact that 95% of hospitals in Germany use glass déco fabrics – even in highly sensitive areas like operating theatres. Mr Sheppard added: “The concept of woven glass wall coverings in general is still pretty new to the UK, but people are now starting to see beyond the novelty value.” CONTACT INFORMATION

Tel: 01455 553118

Crittall has introduced a range of aluminium-timber composite doors and windows suitable for new build and refurbishment project

Composite range available from Crittall W

ith the launch of its innovative new Composite range, Crittall Windows now offers the trade a perfect blend of timber and aluminium windows and doors, suitable for installation in both new build and refurbishment. One of the world’s leading window manufacturers - and the largest manufacturer of steel windows in Europe - Crittall has been designing and producing high quality windows and doors for over 150 years. It is this expertise which the company has applied to its major expansion into the composite window sector. Crittall’s new Composite range simplifies the specification process for architects, builders, contractors and installers: the company is the only supplier to offer a UKbased design, manufacture and installation service to ensure continuity, quality and logistical support. This new range, designed for application in the health, education, commercial, housing and hotel sectors, includes a wide choice of windows and opening styles, as well as Composite light duty doors suitable for balconies and patios, plus thermally broken aluminium heavy duty doors suitable for main entrances and emergency exits. Crittall’s Composite range successfully combines the warmth and natural beauty that timber lends to interiors with the high performance and minimal maintenance that aluminium brings to exteriors. Selected from sustainable sources of natural hardwood and softwood, the timber

complements the modern design of the window profile, and can be lacquered or painted as required to suit the interior. Specifiers can choose between laminated European redwood or solid European oak. Similarly, the aluminium exterior can be coloured as required to add a contrasting feature or to blend in with a building’s overall design. Performance, durability and low maintenance are ensured because the aluminium is coated in-house with Crittall’s DuralifeTM polyester powder coating.This tough, high quality finish increases resistance to the adverse effects of exposure to the elements. Crittall’s new Composite range offers the optimum in weather tightness, and also meets the requirements of BS7950:1997 for resistance to forced entry, while excellent thermal performance is ensured through compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations.This means that because wood is a natural insulator, the windows remain warm to the touch indoors whatever the outside temperature. Modern and traditional look These new windows and doors are easily incorporated into both modern and traditional building fabrics. Design improvements in dimensional accuracy and stability - combined with the patented monolithic construction which ensures a strong, mechanical connection - have eliminated the need for adhesives, clips and veneers. In addition, the aesthetic effect is enhanced by the elimination of knots and finger joints. The Crittall Composite range offers a choice of window types and opening styles, including fixed light, side hung (inward and outward opening), top hung (outward opening), bottom hung (inward opening), and tilt and turn. Standard window hardware includes matt silver anodised finish handles, concealed multilocking, folding openers, friction arms and butt hinges, while additional options include trickle ventilators, remote operation mechanisms, polished chrome or gold and painted finish handles, restrictors and locking handles.

Door types and opening styles include single and double, outward or inward opening, while door hardware includes pull handles, emergency exit devices, lever handles, magnetic locks, electric strikes, and Europrofile cylinder locks. For additional customer service, the windows can be factory or site glazed with 28mm insulating units, while options to ensure safety, security, solar control and privacy are also available. If and when required, Crittall’s Composite windows can also be quickly and easily reglazed from the inside, thus eliminating the need for expensive access equipment or scaffolding. For extra customer reassurance, Crittall Composite windows and doors offer a design life of 40-plus years. In addition, Crittall Windows has just been granted ISO 14001:2004 accreditation, declaring that the company operates in an environmentally responsible manner – preventing pollution, reducing waste and improving its environmental performance year-on-year.


Tel: 01376 530800

Nick Harrison of Hurst Plastics talks about the development of a new breed of fire doors and the advantages the doors bring

Entrance doors that fire the imagination T

he aesthetics of external doors have, without doubt, come a long way in recent years and they are now available in a huge array of patterns and styles.The trend is largely driven by the homeowner’s desire to upgrade the look and feel of their home, the need for the developer to offer a visually appealing entrance to help sell the property and the steady increase in the average household’s disposable income. Despite this, the aesthetics of the fire door, which accounts for almost 10% of the entrance doors used in the UK, has largely been neglected. For years, the most common types of fire doors were the standard flush plywood doors, which separate a house from a garage, or the often unattractive main entrance doors to flats.They often didn’t provide the same level of security as their counterparts and needed to be painted or stained every few years to keep them looking good. Mind the gap The development of the composite GRP entrance door over the past decade has brought an affordable high performance product, with all the characteristics of timber but with none of the drawbacks, to within the reach of the homeowner. A welcome move it certainly was, but it did further widen the gap between the standard entrance door and the fire door. The use of composite fire doors is

becoming more prevalent. Specifiers are increasingly using them on both public and private sector developments to comply with the ever tightening building regulations. There’s also the drive from the Government’s Decent Homes incentive to bring public sector housing up to, and often, above the standards of the private sector. As the scheme progresses, more and more buildings will be equipped with the new and better performing composite fire doors. It’s evident therefore, that the demand for a fire door that looks as good as a top of the range composite door, yet performs to the same standards of security and weatherresistance, whilst offering the same low lifecycle costs has never been greater. It therefore falls to the market leaders in the sector to find an offering for what is undoubtedly a growing shortfall in the range of entrance doors available in the UK. Performance and protection One of the first to offer a real solution to meet the demands of the specifier, landlord and end user for a specificationdriven product that offers consistently high quality and adequate fire protection is Hurst Plastics. The company has just launched a range of high performance composite fire door sets, which offers the very highest in security and weather performance plus a full half hour fire rating (30 minutes stability and 30 minutes integrity).The Hurst fire door makes a smart entrance and is exceptionally safe and secure. It benefits from the same robust GRP skin as the rest of the Hurst composite door range, making it one of the most secure fire doors in its class. Outwardly indistinguishable from the standard Hurst composite door, the new fire door is available in a choice of two solid designs or half glazed. All doors are supplied pre-fitted as a door set in a Eurocell series 70 outer frame with Yale multi-point locking and choice of ironmongery. And just like the standard Hurst

composite door, the fire door has the same low life cycle costs and is virtually maintenance free. Unlike many composite fire doors which are fitted in a timber frame, the Hurst fire door is supplied in a durable PVC-U frame, which requires virtually no maintenance. The frame matches the PVC-U windows and door frames in a property much better than a timber frame, which improves the visual appeal of the whole door. Hurst’s composite door range The standard Hurst composite door range was launched in 2007. It has been developed to be fully compliant with all the latest and pending building legislation. In tests, the door surpassed the requirements of PAS 23 and 24 (including the new Clause 11 that covers severe physical attack on the lock cylinder and door handle). It meets Part L and Part M and has been licensed under the Police Preferred Specification - “Secured by Design”. All these tests have one aim, to provide specifiers and end users with doors that will have long, trouble-free and, in turn, cost-effective lives.Thanks to Hurst’s dedicated manufacturing unit, the doors are also readily available.The factory is fitted with all the latest machinery that is capable of CNC machining a door leaf every 12 minutes. Backed by a comprehensive manufacturers guarantee, the throughcoloured GRP door has a UV stable skin.The through-colour resists scratches and eliminates the need for painting and maintenance. The composite fire door opens up new opportunities to meet the demands of the specifier and homeowner alike and early indications suggest that this exciting new range from Hurst will be a welcome solution to a growing supply problem throughout the industry. CONTACT INFORMATION

Tel: 011482 790790

Housing Active 01/2009  

Magazine for professionals involved in the building, repair and maintenance of domestic, social and affordable housing in the UK.

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