I am not alone in wondering why it has taken recent tragic events to raise the issue of resident safety to the top of the agenda. As a specialist social housing repairs and maintenance contractor, Mila Window and Door Maintenance has made the safety of those in whose homes we work the number one priority for a long time.
It should always be the first consideration when looking at the specification for a contract – certainly above cost - and its implementation, and I know that many of the clients we work with have always held this view.
There are others however for whom there is going to be a period of re-evaluation. Based on the number and type of enquiries we have received in the past few months, there are clearly landlords where the measures designed to keep their residents safe fall short where windows and doors are concerned.
So, it is important that businesses like ours respond positively and quickly to help them update the products installed in their properties to a level which is agreeable as the norm as we enter 2018.
Three key elements to consider where resident safety is concerned:
For those landlords looking to upgrade their stock to introduce greater levels of safety for their residents I would recommend that they concentrate on these three main areas - Fire Safety, Home Security and Child Safety. Below are some points which might be useful.
The installation of new Fire Doors has become a priority for many landlords in recent months, especially those with high rise living accommodation. For those considering the installation of new doors there are two main product options to choose from, FD30’s and FD60’s – literally a 30-minute guarantee against fire penetration, and a 60-minute guarantee.
Most suppliers of fire doors offer both, but here are the two critical elements to consider – check that the Test Certificate a supplier offers is for a complete door, and not simply that each of the elements which are included in its make comply individually, and secondly ensure that you only use installers who have formal accreditation to enable them to install Fire Doors. Falling down on either of these elements can render the new safety measures ineffective and non-compliant.
It is a sad an inescapable fact that crime is on the increase again, and especially in relation to home intrusion. Ensuring that the windows and doors in their housing stock meet with the latest and highest standards of security is a consideration landlords should undertake.
There are new window and door locking mechanisms coming onto the market all the time which meet the very latest standards of security, and for those landlords whose windows and doors have been installed for a long period of time, now might be a good time to review exactly what is installed in the homes of their residents.
This is a good point at which to explain to landlords who might not be aware, that they don’t need to replace the windows and doors in their stock to upgrade them, but that they can quickly, and cost effectively upgrade the hardware elements to bring the windows and doors into line with the latest security standards.
Most of the jobs we attend, do not have products fitted which are considerate to child safety. In high rise applications at least, the work we do now invariably does include upgrading the windows to include child safety restrictors. Many landlords have age considerations when choosing who can live in their high-rise accommodation, but by the nature of their age, most of the residents will have visitors who are children and younger people who need protection from the dangers of open windows in these environments.
But it is not only high rise living where restrictors are needed – a fall from a ground floor window can result in serious injury or worse in just the same way, and restrictors at lower levels also add an element of security against home intrusion whilst windows are left open for ventilation.
Tristan Cooke is Managing Director of Mila Window and Door Maintenance which has over 30 years’ experience repairing, maintaining and upgrading windows and doors in the social housing sector. They are specialist contractors in their field and have completed over 1.1 million jobs.